1 Peter 2:1
After having taught the faithful that they had been regenerated by the word of God, he now exhorts them to lead a life corresponding with their birth. For if we live in the Spirit, we ought also to walk in the Spirit, as Paul says. (Gal_5:25.) It is not, then, sufficient for us to have been once called by the Lord, except we live as new creatures. This is the meaning. But as to the words, the Apostle continues the same metaphor. For as we have been born again, he requires from us a life like that of infants; by which he intimates that we are to put off the old man and his works. Hence this verse agrees with what Christ says, “Except ye become like this little child, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of God.”(Mat_18:3.)
Infancy is here set by Peter in opposition to the ancientness of the flesh, which leads to corruption; and under the word milk, he includes all the feelings of spiritual life. For there is also in part a contrast between the vices which he enumerates and the sincere milk of the word; as though he had said, “Malice and hypocrisy belong to those who are habituated to the corruptions of the world; they have imbibed these vices: what pertains to infancy is sincere simplicity, free from all guile. Men, when grown up, become imbued with envy, they learn to slander one another, they are taught the arts of mischief; in short, they become hardened in every kind of evil: infants, owing to their age, do not yet know what it is to envy, to do mischief, or the like things.” He then compares the vices, in which the oldness of the flesh indulges, to strong food; and milk is called that way of living suitable to innocent nature and simple infancy.
1. All malice There is not here a complete enumeration of all those things which we ought to lay aside; but when the Apostles speak of the old man, they lay down as examples some of those vices which mark his whole character.
“Known,” says Paul, “are the works of the flesh, which are these,” (Gal_5:19;)
and yet he does not enumerate them all; but in those few things, as in a mirror, we may see that immense mass of filth which proceeds from our flesh. So also in other passages, where he refers to the new life, he touches only on a few things, by which we may understand the whole character.
What, then, he says amounts to this, — “Having laid aside the works of your former life, such as malice, deceit, dissimulations, envyings, and other things of this kind, devote yourselves to things of an opposite character, cultivate kindness, honesty,” etc. He, in short, urges this, that new morals ought to follow a new life.
Cambridge Bible 1 Pet Plumptre
1. Wherefore laying aside] The sequence of thought goes on, as is seen in the “new-born babes” of the next verse, from the thought of the “regeneration” of believers expressed in chap. 1:3, 23. As entering on a new and purer life they are to “lay aside” (compare the use of the kindred noun in connexion with baptism in chap. 3:21) the evil that belongs to the old. As far as the list of evils is concerned, they point, especially in the “hypocrisies and evil speakings,” to the besetting sins of the Jewish rather than the Gentile character, as condemned by our Lord (Mat_23 et al.) and St James (3:4), and so confirm the view which has been here taken, that the Epistle was throughout addressed mainly to Jewish converts.
Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown
1 Peter 2:1
To guileless feeding on the word by the sense of their privileges as new-born babes, living stones in the spiritual temple built on Christ the chief corner-stone, and royal priests, in contrast to their former state: also to abstinence from fleshly lusts, and to walk worthily in all relations of life, so that the world without which opposes them may be constrained to glorify God in seeing their good works. Christ, the grand pattern to follow in patience under suffering for well-doing.
laying aside — once for all: so the Greek aorist expresses as a garment put off. The exhortation applies to Christians alone, for in none else is the new nature existing which, as “the inward man” (Eph_3:16) can cast off the old as an outward thing, so that the Christian, through the continual renewal of his inward man, can also exhibit himself externally as a new man. But to unbelievers the demand is addressed, that inwardly, in regard to the nous (mind), they must become changed, meta-noeisthai (re-pent) [Steiger]. The “therefore” resumes the exhortation begun in 1Pe_1:22. Seeing that ye are born again of an incorruptible seed, be not again entangled in evil, which “has no substantial being, but is an acting in contrariety to the being formed in us” [Theophylact]. “Malice,” etc., are utterly inconsistent with the “love of the brethren,” unto which ye have “purified your souls” (1Pe_1:22). The vices here are those which offend against the BROTHERLY LOVE inculcated above. Each succeeding one springs out of that which immediately precedes, so as to form a genealogy of the sins against love. Out of malice springs guile; out of guile, hypocrises (pretending to be what we are not, and not showing what we really are; the opposite of “love unfeigned,” and “without dissimulation”); out of hypocrisies, envies of those to whom we think ourselves obliged to play the hypocrite; out of envies, evil-speaking, malicious, envious detraction of others. Guile is the permanent disposition; hypocrisies the acts flowing from it. The guileless knows no envy. Compare 1Pe_2:2, “sincere,” Greek, “guileless.” “Malice delights in another’s hurt; envy pines at another’s good; guile imparts duplicity to the heart; hypocrisy (flattery) imparts duplicity to the tongue; evil-speakings wound the character of another” [Augustine].
1 Peter 2:1
Wherefore laying aside – On the word rendered laying aside, see Rom_13:12; Eph_4:22, Eph_4:25; Col_3:8. The allusion is to putting off clothes; and the meaning is, that we are to cast off these things entirely; that is, we are no longer to practice them. The word “wherefore” (οὖν oun) refers to the reasonings in the first chapter. In view of the considerations stated there, we should renounce all evil.
All malice – All “evil,” (κακίαν kakian.) The word “malice” we commonly apply now to a particular kind of evil, denoting extreme enmity of heart, ill-will, a disposition to injure others without cause, from mere personal gratification, or from a spirit of revenge – Webster. The Greek word, however, includes evil of all kinds. See the notes at Rom_1:29. Compare Act_8:22, where it is rendered wickedness, and 1Co_5:8; 1Co_14:20; Eph_4:31; Col_3:8; Tit_3:3.
And all guile – Deceit of all kinds. See the Rom_1:29 note; 2Co_12:16 note; 1Th_2:3 note.
And hypocrisies – See the 1Ti_4:2, note; Mat_23:28; Gal_2:13, on the word rendered dissimulation. The word means, feigning to be what we are not; assuming a false appearance of religion; cloaking a wicked purpose under the appearance of piety.
And envies – Hatred of others on account of some excellency which they have, or something which they possess which we do not. See the notes at Rom_1:29.
And all evil speaking – Greek: “speaking against others.” This word (καταλαλιὰ katalalia) occurs only here and in 2Co_12:20, where it is rendered “backbitings.” It would include all unkind or slanderous speaking against others. This is by no means an uncommon fault in the world, and it is one of the designs of religion to guard against it. Religion teaches us to lay aside whatever guile, insincerity, and false appearances we may have acquired, and to put on the simple honesty and openness of children. We all acquire more or less of guile and insincerity in the course of life. We learn to conceal our sentiments and feelings, and almost unconsciously come to appear different from what we really are. It is not so with children. In the child, every emotion of the bosom appears as it is. “Nature there works well and beautifully.” Every emotion is expressed; every feeling of the heart is developed; and in the cheeks, the open eye, the joyous or sad countenance, we know all that there is in the bosom, as certainly as we know all that there is in the rose by its color and its fragrance. Now, it is one of the purposes of religion to bring us back to this state, and to strip off all the subterfuges which we may have acquired in life; and he in whom this effect is not accomplished has never been converted. A man that is characteristically deceitful, cunning, and crafty, cannot be a Christian. “Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven,” Mat_18:3.
1 Peter 2:2
2.The sincere milk of the word This passage is commonly explained according to the rendering of Erasmus, “Milk not for the body but for the soul;” as though the Apostle reminded us by this expression that he spoke metaphorically. I rather think that this passage agrees with that saying of Paul, “Be ye not children in understanding, but in malice.” (1Co_14:20.)
That no one might think that infancy, void of understanding and full of fatuity, was commended by him, he in due time meets this objection; so he bids them to desire milk free from guile, and yet mixed with right understanding. We now see for what purpose he joins these two words, rational and guileless, (λογικὸν καὶ ἄδολος.) For simplicity and quickness of understanding are two things apparently opposite; but they ought to be mixed together, lest simplicity should become insipid, and lest malicious craftiness should creep in for want of understanding. This mingling, well regulated, is according, to what Christ says, “Be ye wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” (Mat_10:16.)
And thus is solved the question which might have been otherwise raised.
Paul reproves the Corinthians because they were like children, and therefore they could not take strong food, but were fed with milk. (1Co_3:1.) Almost the same words are found in Heb_5:12. But in these passages those are compared to children who remain always novices and ignorant scholars in the doctrine of religion, who continued in the first elements, and never penetrated into the higher knowledge of God. Milk is called the simpler mode of teaching, and one suitable to children, when there is no progress made beyond the first rudiments. Justly, then, does Paul charge this as a fault, as well as the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews. But milk, here, is not elementary doctrine, which one perpetually learns; and never comes to the knowledge of the truth, but a mode of living which has the savor of the new birth, when we surrender ourselves to be brought up by God. In the same manner infancy is not set in opposition to manhood, or full age in Christ, as Paul calls it in Eph_4:13, but to the ancientness of the flesh and of former life. Moreover, as the infancy of the new life is perpetual, so Peter recommends milk as a perpetual aliment, for he would have those nourished by it to grow.
Cambridge Bible 1Pet Plumptre
2. as newborn babes] The Greek noun, like the English, implies the earliest stage of infancy. See Luk_1:41, Luk_1:44, Luk_1:2:12, Luk_1:16.
the sincere milk of the word] The English version tries to express the force of the original but has had recourse to a somewhat inadequate paraphrase. Literally, the words may be rendered as the rational (or intellectual) milk, the adjective having very nearly the force of “spiritual” in such passages as 1Co_10:3, 1Co_10:4. The “milk” of which he speaks is that which nourishes the reason or mind, and not the body, and is found in the simpler form of the Truth as it is in Jesus which was presented by the Apostolic Church to the minds of its disciples. Looking to the other instances of parallelism between St Peter’s language and those of the Epistles of St Paul, we can scarcely be wrong in thinking that here also he more or less reproduces what he had read in them. The word for “rational” meets us in Rom_12:1 (“reasonable” in the English version), in the same sense as here, and is not found elsewhere in the New Testament. The thought that those who are as yet in spiritual childhood, must be fed with the spiritual milk adapted to their state, is found in 1Co_3:2. Comp. also Heb_5:12, Heb_5:13. There is almost as striking a coincidence in the adjective sincere (better, pure or unadulterated), which expresses precisely the same thought as that of St Paul’s words in 2Co_2:17 (“we are not, as the many, adulterators of the word of God”) and 2Co_4:2 (“not dealing with the word of God deceitfully”). The thought implied in the word is that, however simple may be the truths which men teach, according to the capacities of their hearers, they should at all events be free from any admixture of conscious falsehood. The words fix the sentence of condemnation on the “pious frauds,” on the populus vult decipi et decipiatur, on which even Christian teachers and Churches have too often acted. In the word “desire,” or long after (the word expressing an almost passionate yearning), we have a sad reminder that the spiritual appetite is not as spontaneous as the natural. Infants do not need to be told to seek the mother’s breast.
that ye may grow thereby] The better MSS. add the words unto salvation. Though not essential to the sense, they give a worthy completeness to it, and it is not easy to understand how they came to be omitted in the later MSS.
Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown
1 Peter 2:2
new-born babes — altogether without “guile” (1Pe_2:1). As long as we are here we are “babes,” in a specially tender relation to God (Isa_40:11). The childlike spirit is indispensable if we would enter heaven. “Milk” is here not elementary truths in contradistinction to more advanced Christian truths, as in 1Co_3:2; Heb_5:12, Heb_5:13; but in contrast to “guile, hypocrisies,” etc. (1Pe_2:1); the simplicity of Christian doctrine in general to the childlike spirit. The same “word of grace” which is the instrument in regeneration, is the instrument also of building up. “The mother of the child is also its natural nurse” [Steiger]. The babe, instead of chemically analyzing, instinctively desires and feeds on the milk; so our part is not self-sufficient rationalizing and questioning, but simply receiving the truth in the love of it (Mat_11:25).
desire — Greek, “have a yearning desire for,” or “longing after,” a natural impulse to the regenerate, “for as no one needs to teach new-born babes what food to take, knowing instinctively that a table is provided for them in their mother’s breast,” so the believer of himself thirsts after the word of God (Psa_119:1-176). Compare Tatius’ language as to Achilles.
sincere — Greek, “guileless.” Compare 1Pe_2:1, “laying aside guile.” Irenaeus says of heretics. They mix chalk with the milk. The article, “the,” implies that besides the well-known pure milk, the Gospel, there is no other pure, unadulterated doctrine; it alone can make us guileless (1Pe_2:1).
of the word — Not as Alford, “spiritual,” nor “reasonable,” as English Version in Rom_12:1. The Greek “logos” in Scripture is not used of the reason, or mind, but of the WORD; the preceding context requires that “the word” should be meant here; the adjective “logikos” follows the meaning of the noun logos, “word.” Jam_1:21, “Lay apart all filthiness … and receive with meekness the engrafted WORD,” is exactly parallel, and confirms English Version here.
grow — The oldest manuscripts and versions read, “grow unto salvation.” Being BORN again unto salvation, we are also to grow unto salvation. The end to which growth leads is perfected salvation. “Growth is the measure of the fullness of that, not only rescue from destruction, but positive blessedness, which is implied in salvation” [Alford].
thereby — Greek, “in it”; fed on it; in its strength (Act_11:14). “The word is to be desired with appetite as the cause of life, to be swallowed in the hearing, to be chewed as cud is by rumination with the understanding, and to be digested by faith” [Tertullian].
1 Peter 2:2
As new-born babes – The phrase used here would properly denote those which were just born, and hence Christians who had just begun the spiritual life. See the word explained in the notes at 2Ti_3:15. It is not uncommon, in the Scriptures, to compare Christians with little children. See the notes at Mat_18:3, for the reasons of this comparison. Compare the 1Co_3:2 note; Heb_5:12, Heb_5:14 notes.
Desire the sincere milk of the word – The pure milk of the word. On the meaning of the word “sincere,” see the notes at Eph_6:24. The Greek word here (ἄδολον adolon) means, properly, that which is without guile or falsehood; then unadulterated, pure, genuine. The Greek adjective rendered “of the word,” (λογικὸν logikon,) means properly rational, pertaining to reason, or mind; and, in the connection here with milk, means that which is adapted to sustain the soul. Compare the notes at Rom_12:1. There is no doubt that there is allusion to the gospel in its purest and most simple form, as adapted to be the nutriment of the new-born soul. Probably there are two ideas here; one, that the proper aliment of piety is simple truth; the other, that the truths which they were to desire were the more elementary truths of the gospel, such as would be adapted to those who were babes in knowledge.
That ye may grow thereby – As babes grow on their proper nutriment. Piety in the heart is susceptible of growth, and is made to grow by its proper aliment, as a plant or a child is, and will grow in proportion as it has the proper kind of nutriment. From this verse we may see:
(1) The reason of the injunction of the Saviour to Peter, to “feed his lambs,” Joh_21:15; 1Pe_2:1-2. Young Christians strongly resemble children, babies; and they need watchful care, and kind attention, and appropriate aliment, as much as new-born infants do. Piety receives its form much from its commencement and the character of the whole Christian life will be determined in a great degree by the views entertained at first, and the kind of instruction which is given to those who are just entering on their Christian course. We may also see,
(2) That it furnishes evidence of conversion, if we have a love for the simple and pure truths of the gospel. It is evidence that we have spiritual life, as really as the desire of appropriate nourishment is evidence that an infant has natural life. The new-born soul loves the truth. It is nourished by it. It perishes without it. The gospel is just what it wants; and without that it could not live. We may also learn from this verse,
(3) That the truths of the gospel which are best adapted to that state, are those which are simple and plain. Compare Heb_5:12-14. It is not philosophy that is needed then; it is not the profound and difficult doctrines of the gospel; it is those elementary truths which lie at the foundation of all religion, and which can be comprehended by children. Religion makes everyone docile and humble as a child; and whatever may be the age at which one is converted, or whatever attainments he may have made in science, he relishes the same truths which are loved by the youngest and most unlettered child that is brought into the kingdom of God.
1 Peter 2:3
3If so be that ye have tasted; or, If indeed ye have tasted. He alludes to Psa_34:8, “Taste and see that the Lord is good.”
But he says that this taste is to be had in Christ, as, doubtless, our souls can find no rest anywhere but in him. But he has drawn the ground of his exhortation from the goodness of God, because his kindness, which we perceive in Christ, ought to allure us; for what follows,
Cambridge Bible 1Pet Plumptre
3. if so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious] Better, if ye tasted, as referring more definitely to the experiences of the first period of their life as Christians. The word “tasted” as applied to those experiences follows naturally, as in Heb_6:4, on the imagery of the milk. The Greek word for “gracious” itself carries on the metaphor of the tasting, being applied in Luk_5:39 to express the mellowness of wine ripened by age. The words are a quotation from Psa_34:8 as it stands in the LXX. version. We can scarcely doubt that the Apostle saw in the Master he had owned in Christ the “Lord” of whom the Psalmist spoke. It is possible that he may have been led to choose the quotation from the close resemblance in sound between the two Greek words for “Christ” (Christos) and “gracious” (Chrestos). The acceptance of the name of Christian as carrying with it this significance, and being, as it were, nomen et omen, was common in the second century (Tertullian Apol. 100:3), and it would have been quite in accordance with Jewish habits of thought for St Peter to have anticipated that application.
If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious; rather, if ye tasted. If ye once tasted the good Word of God (Heb_6:4, Heb_6:5), if ye tasted of the heavenly gift which comes through that Word (1Pe_1:23), long after it that ye may g-row therein. The “if” does not imply doubt; the apostle supposes that they have once tasted, and urges them, on the ground of that first taste, to long for more. The first experiences of the Christian life stimulate God’s people to further efforts. The words are a quotation from Psa_34:8, “Oh taste and see that the Lord is good!” This makes it less probable that St. Peter is intentionally playing, as some have thought, on the similarity of the words χρηστός and Ξριστός. The confusion was common among the heathen; and Christian writers, as Tertullian, sometimes adopted it; Christus, they said, was chrestus, “Christ was good;” and Christians, followers of the good Master, followed after that which is good. But St. Peter is simply quoting the words of the psalm, and applying them to the metaphor of milk. It is possible that there may be an under-current of allusion to the Lord’s teaching in Joh_6:1-71. The Lord himself is the Bread of life, the food of the soul. The epithet χρηστός is not infrequently used of food (see Luk_5:39).
1 Peter 2:4
To whom coming, is not to be referred simply to God, but to him as he is revealed to us in the person of Christ. Now, it cannot be but that the grace of God must powerfully draw us to himself and inflame us with the love of him by whom we obtain a real perception of it. If Plato affirmed this of his Beautiful, of which a shadowy idea only he beheld afar off, much more true is this with regard to God.
Let it then be noticed, that Peter connects an access to God with the taste of his goodness. For as the human mind necessarily dreads and shuns God, as long as it regards him as rigid and severe; so, as soon as he makes known his paternal love to the faithful, it immediately follows that they disregard all things and even forget themselves and hasten to him. In short, he only makes progress in the Gospel, who in heart comes to God.
But he also shews for what end and to what purpose we ought to come to Christ, even that we may have him as our foundation. For since he is constituted a stone, he ought to be so to us, so that nothing should be appointed for him by the Father in vain or to no purpose. But he obviates an offense when he allows that Christ is rejected by men; for, as a great part of the world reject him, and even many abhor him, he might for this reason be despised by us; for we see that some of the ignorant are alienated from the Gospel, because it is not everywhere popular, nor does it conciliate favor to its professors. But Peter forbids us to esteem Christ the less, however despised he may be by the world, because he, notwithstanding, retains his own worth and honor before God.
Cambridge Bible 1 Pet Plumptre
4. To whom coming, as unto a living stone] The whole imagery changes, like a dissolving view, and in the place of the growth of babes nourished with spiritual milk, we have that of a building in which each disciple of Christ is as a “living stone” spontaneously taking its right place in the building that rests on Christ as the chief corner-stone. The new imagery is connected in St Peter’s mind with its use in Psa_118:22 and Isa_28:16, but it is not without significance to note that we have the same sequence of the two metaphors in 1Co_3:1, 1Co_3:2 and 10, 11. It may be noted also that the Greek is bolder in its use of the image than the English, and has no particle of comparison, to whom coming, even to a living stone. The term “living” is used in its fullest sense, presenting the paradox of connecting the noun with the adjective which seems most remote from it. The lower sense of the word in which Latin writers applied the term saxum vivum to rocks in their natural form as distinct from those that had been hewn and shaped, is hardly admissible here.
disallowed indeed of men] The verb is the same as the “rejected” of Mat_21:42. We cannot forget that the thoughts on which St Peter now enters had their starting-point in the citation of the Psalm by our Lord on that occasion. In the substitution of the wide term “men” for the “builders” of the Psalm, we may trace the feeling that it was not the rulers of the Jews only, nor even the Jews only as a nation, but mankind at large, by whom the “head of the corner” had been rejected. Here again we see in the Epistle the reproduction of the Apostle’s earlier teaching (Act_4:11).
but chosen of God, and precious] More accurately, but with God (i.e. in God’s sight) chosen, precious (or, held in honour). The two words emphasize the contrast between man’s rejection and God’s acceptance. Both are taken from the LXX. of Isa_28:16.
1 Peter 2:4
To whom coming – To the Lord Jesus, for so the word “Lord” is to be understood in 1Pe_2:3. Compare the notes at Act_1:24. The idea here is, that they had come to him for salvation, while the great mass of people rejected him. Others “disallowed” him, and turned away from him, but they had seen that he was the one chosen or appointed of God, and had come to him in order to be saved. Salvation is often represented as corning to Christ. See Mat_11:28.
As unto a living stone – The allusion in this passage is to Isa_28:16, “Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.” See the notes at that passage. There may be also possibly an allusion to Psa_118:22, “The stone which the builders disallowed is become the headstone of the corner.” The reference is to Christ as the foundation on which the church is reared. He occupied the same place in regard to the church which a foundation-stone does to the edifice that is reared upon it. Compare Mat_7:24-25. See the Rom_9:33 note, and Eph_2:20-22 notes. The phrase “living stone” is however unusual, and is not found, I think, except in this place. There seems to be an incongruity in it, in attributing life to a stone, yet the meaning is not difficult to be understood. The purpose was not to speak of a temple, like that at Jerusalem, made up of gold and costly stones; but of a temple made up of living materials – of redeemed people – in which God now resides. In speaking of that, it was natural to refer to the foundation on which the whole rested, and to speak of that as corresponding to the whole edifice. It was all a living temple – a temple composed of living materials – from the foundation to the top. Compare the expression in Joh_4:10, “He would have given thee living water;” that is, water which would have imparted life to the soul. So Christ imparts life to the whole spiritual temple that is reared on him as a foundation.
Disallowed indeed of men – Rejected by them, first by the Jews, in causing him to be put to death; and then by all people when he is offered to them as their Saviour. See the notes at Isa_53:3. Psa_118:22; “Which the builders refused.” Compare the Mat_21:42 note; Act_4:11 note.
But chosen of God – Selected by him as the suitable foundation on which to rear his church.
And precious – Valuable. The universe had nothing more valuable on which to rear the spiritual temple.
1 Peter 2:5
5.Ye also, as lively or living stones, are built up The verb may be in the imperative as well as in the indicative mood, for the termination in Greek is ambiguous. But in whatever way it is taken, Peter no doubt meant to exhort the faithful to consecrate themselves as a spiritual temple to God; for he aptly infers from the design of our calling what our duty is. We must further observe, that he constructs one house from the whole number of the faithful. For though every one of us is said to be the temple of God, yet all are united together in one, and must be joined together by mutual love, so that one temple may be made of us all.
Then, as it is true that each one is a temple in which God dwells by his Spirit, so all ought to be so fitted together, that they may form one universal temple. This is the case when every one, content with his own measure, keeps himself within the limits of his own duty; all have, however, something to do with regard to others.
By calling us living stones and spiritual building, as he had before said that Christ is a living stone, he intimates a comparison between us and the ancient temple; and this serves to amplify divine grace. For the same purpose is what he adds as to spiritual sacrifices For by how much the more excellent is the reality than the types, by so much the more all things excel in the kingdom of Christ; for we have that heavenly exemplar, to which the ancient sanctuary was conformable, and everything instituted by Moses under the Law.
A holy priesthood It is a singular honor, that God should not only consecrate us as a temple to himself, in which he dwells and is worshipped, but that he should also make us priests. But Peter mentions this double honor, in order to stimulate us more effectually to serve and worship God. Of the spiritual sacrifices, the first is the offering of ourselves, of which Paul speaks in Rom_12:1; for we can offer nothing, until we offer to him ourselves as a sacrifice; which is done by denying ourselves. Then, afterwards follow prayers, thanksgiving, almsdeeds, and all the duties of religion.
Acceptable to God. It ought also to add not a little to our alacrity, when we know that the worship we perform to God is pleasing o him, as doubt necessarily brings sloth with it. Here, then, is the third thing that enforces the exhortation; for he declares that what is required is acceptable to God, lest fear should make us slothful. Idolaters are indeed under the influence of great fervor in their fictitious forms of worship; but it is so, because Satan inebriates their minds, lest they should come to consider their works; but whenever their consciences are led to examine things, they begin to stagger. It is, indeed, certain that no one will seriously and from the heart devote himself to God, until he is fully persuaded that he shall not labor in vain.
But the Apostle adds, through Jesus Christ There is never found in our sacrifices such purity, that they are of themselves acceptable to God; our self-denial is never entire and complete, our prayers are never so sincere as they ought to be, we are never so zealous and so diligent in doing good, but that our works are imperfect, and mingled with many vices. Nevertheless, Christ procures favor for them. Then Peter here obviates that want of faith which we may have respecting the acceptableness of our works, when he says, that they are accepted, not for the merit of their own excellency, but through Christ. And it ought to kindle the more the ardor of our efforts, when we hear that God deals so indulgently with us, that in Christ he sets a value on our works, which in themselves deserve nothing. At the same time, the words, by or through Christ, may be fitly connected with offering; for a similar phrase is found in Heb_13:15, “Through him let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God.”
The sense, however, will remain the same; for we offer sacrifices through Christ, that they may be acceptable to God.
Cambridge Bible 1Pet Plumptre
5. ye also, as lively stones] Better, as living stones, there being no reason for a variation in the English, to which there is nothing corresponding in the Greek. The repetition of the same participle gives prominence to the thought that believers are sharers in the life of Christ, and that, in the building up of the spiritual temple, each of these “living stones” takes its voluntary, though not self-originated, part. It is an open question, as far as the Greek is concerned, whether the verb is in the passive or the middle voice, in the indicative or the imperative mood, but the sense is, perhaps, best given by the rendering, build yourselves up.
a spiritual house] The words come as a secondary predicate of the previous clause. “This,” St Peter says, “is what you will become by coming to Christ and building yourselves on Him.” The “house,” like the corner-stone, carries our thoughts back to the Temple as “the house of God” (1Ki_8:10), which finds its antitype in that Ecclesia to which St Paul attaches the same glorious title (1Ti_3:15). We can hardly think that St Peter could write these words without remembering the words which had told him of the rock on which Christ would build His Church, and into the full meaning of which he was now, at last, entering (Mat_16:18).
a holy priesthood] The thought of the Temple is followed naturally by that of its ritual and of those who are the chief agents in it. Here also there is a priesthood, but it is not attached, as in the Jewish Temple, to any sacerdotal caste, like that of the sons of Aaron, but is co-extensive with the whole company of worshippers. As in the patriarchal Church, as in the original ideal of Israel (Exo_19:5), from which the appointment of the Levitical priesthood was a distinctly retrograde step consequent on the unfitness of the nation for its high calling as a kingdom of priests, as in the vision of the future that floated before the eyes of Isaiah (61:6), so now in the Church of Christ, there was to be no separate priesthood, in the old sense of the word, and with the old functions. All were to offer “spiritual sacrifices” (we note the identity of thought with Rom_12:1) as contrasted with the burnt-offerings or meat-offerings of Jewish ritual. And, by what to a Jew must have seemed at first the strangest of all paradoxes, and afterwards the development of a truth of which germinal hints had been given to his fathers, in this new order of things the Temple and the Priesthood were not, as in the old, distinguished and divided from each other, but were absolutely identical. The Priests who sacrificed in the true Temple, were themselves the stones of which that Temple was built.
acceptable to God] St Peter uses the stronger and more emphatic form of the adjective which was familiar on St Paul’s lips (Rom_15:16, Rom_15:31; 2Co_6:2, 2Co_8:12). In the addition of the words “through Jesus Christ,” we have at once the sanction for the Church’s use of that form of words in connexion with all her acts of prayer and praise, and the implied truth that it is only through their union with Christ as the great High Priest and with His sacrifice that His people are able to share His priesthood and to offer their own spiritual sacrifices.
Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown
1 Peter 2:5
Ye also, as lively stones — partaking of the name and life which is in “THE LIVING STONE” (1Pe_2:4; 1Co_3:11). Many names which belong to Christ in the singular are assigned to Christians in the plural. He is “THE SON,” “High Priest,” “King,” “Lamb”; they, “sons,” “priests,” “kings,” “sheep,” “lambs.” So the Shulamite called from Solomon [Bengel].
are built up — Greek, “are being built up,” as in Eph_2:22. Not as Alford, “Be ye built up.” Peter grounds his exhortations, 1Pe_2:2, 1Pe_2:11, etc., on their conscious sense of their high privileges as living stones in the course of being built up into a spiritual house (that is, “the habitation of the Spirit”).
priesthood — Christians are both the spiritual temple and the priests of the temple. There are two Greek words for “temple”; hieron (the sacred place), the whole building, including the courts wherein the sacrifice was killed; and naos (the dwelling, namely, of God), the inner shrine wherein God peculiarly manifested Himself, and where, in the holiest place, the blood of the slain sacrifice was presented before Him. All believers alike, and not merely ministers, are now the dwelling of God (and are called the “naos,” Greek, not the hieron) and priests unto God (Rev_1:6). The minister is not, like the Jewish priest (Greek, “hiereus”), admitted nearer to God than the people, but merely for order’s sake leads the spiritual services of the people. Priest is the abbreviation of presbyter in the Church of England Prayer Book, not corresponding to the Aaronic priest (hiereus, who offered literal sacrifices). Christ is the only literal hiereus-priest in the New Testament through whom alone we may always draw near to God. Compare 1Pe_2:9, “a royal priesthood,” that is, a body of priest-kings, such as was Melchisedec. The Spirit never, in New Testament, gives the name hiereus, or sacerdotal priest, to ministers of the Gospel.
holy — consecrated to God.
spiritual sacrifices — not the literal one of the mass, as the Romish self-styled disciples of Peter teach. Compare Isa_56:7, which compare with “acceptable to God” here; Psa_4:5; Psa_50:14; Psa_51:17, Psa_51:19; Hos_14:2; Phi_4:18. “Among spiritual sacrifices the first place belongs to the general oblation of ourselves. For never can we offer anything to God until we have offered ourselves (2Co_8:5) in sacrifice to Him. There follow afterwards prayers, giving of thanks, alms deeds, and all exercises of piety” [Calvin]. Christian houses of worship are never called temples because the temple was a place for sacrifice, which has no place in the Christian dispensation; the Christian temple is the congregation of spiritual worshippers. The synagogue (where reading of Scripture and prayer constituted the worship) was the model of the Christian house of worship (compare Note, see on Jam_2:2, Greek, “synagogue”; Act_15:21). Our sacrifices are those of prayer, praise, and self-denying services in the cause of Christ (1Pe_2:9, end).
by Jesus Christ — as our mediating High Priest before God. Connect these words with “offer up.” Christ is both precious Himself and makes us accepted [Bengel]. As the temple, so also the priesthood, is built on Christ (1Pe_2:4, 1Pe_2:5) [Beza]. Imperfect as are our services, we are not with unbelieving timidity, which is close akin to refined self-righteousness, to doubt their acceptance THROUGH CHRIST. After extolling the dignity of Christians he goes back to Christ as the sole source of it.
1 Peter 2:5
Ye also, as lively stones – Greek, “living stones.” The word should have been so rendered. The word lively with us now has a different meaning from living, and denotes “active, quick, sprightly.” The Greek word is the same as that used in the previous verse, and rendered living. The meaning is, that the materials of which the temple here referred to was composed, were living materials throughout. The foundation is a living foundation, and all the superstructure is compassed of living materials. The purpose of the apostle here is to compare the church to a beautiful temple – such as the temple in Jerusalem, and to show that it is complete in all its parts, as that was. It has within itself what corresponds with everything that was valuable in that. It is a beautiful structure like that; and as in that there was a priesthood, and there were real and acceptable sacrifices offered, so it is in the Christian church.
The Jews prided themselves much on their temple. It was a most costly and splendid edifice. It was the place where God was worshipped, and where he was supposed to dwell. It had an imposing service, and there was acceptable worship rendered there. As a new dispensation was introduced; as the tendency of the Christian system was to draw off the worshippers from that temple, and to teach them that God could be worshipped as acceptably elsewhere as at Jerusalem, Joh_4:21-23 as Christianity did not inculcate the necessity of rearing splendid temples for the worship of God; and as in fact the temple at Jerusalem was about to be destroyed forever, it was important to show that in the Christian church there might be found all that was truly beautiful and valuable in the temple at Jerusalem; that it had what corresponded to what was in fact most precious there, and that there was still a most magnificent and beautiful temple on the earth.
Hence, the sacred writers labor to show that all was found in the church that had made the temple at Jerusalem so glorious, and that the great design contemplated by the erection of that splendid edifice – the maintenance of the worship of God – was now accomplished in a more glorious manner than even in the services of that house. For there was a temple, made up of living materials, which was still the special dwelling-place of God on the earth. In that I temple there was a holy priesthood – for every Christian was a priest. In that temple there were sacrifices offered, as acceptable to God as in the former – for they were spiritual sacrifices, offered continually. These thoughts were often dwelt upon by the apostle Paul, and are here illustrated by Peter, evidently with the same design, to impart consolation to those who had never been permitted to worship at the temple in Jerusalem, and to comfort those Jews, now converted to Christianity, who saw that that splendid and glorious edifice was about to be destroyed. The special abode of God on the earth was now removed from that temple to the Christian church. The first aspect in which this is illustrated here is, that the temple of God was made up of “living stones;” that is, that the materials were not inanimate stones but endued with life, and so much more valuable than those employed in the temple at Jerusalem, as the soul is more precious than any materials of stone. There were living beings which composed that temple, constituting a more beautiful structure, and a more appropriate dwelling-place for God, than any edifice could be made of stone, however costly or valuable.
A spiritual house – A spiritual temple, not made of perishable materials, like that at Jerusalem net composed of matter, as that was, but made up of redeemed souls – a temple more appropriate to be the residence of one who is a pure spirit. Compare the Eph_2:19-22 notes, and 1Co_6:19-20 notes.
An holy priesthood – In the temple at Jerusalem, the priesthood appointed to minister there, and to offer sacrifices, constituted an essential part of the arrangement. It was important, therefore, to show that this was not overlooked in the spiritual temple that God was raising. Accordingly, the apostle says that this is amply provided for, by constituting “the whole body of Christians” to be in fact a priesthood. Everyone is engaged in offering acceptable sacrifice to God. The business is not entrusted to a particular class to be known as priests; there is not a particular portion to whom the name is to be especially given; but every Christian is in fact a priest, and is engaged in offering an acceptable sacrifice to God. See Rom_1:6; “And hath made us: kings and priests unto God.” The Great High Priest in this service is the Lord Jesus Christ, (see the Epistle to the Hebrews, passim) but besides him there is no one who sustains this office, except as it is borne by all the Christian members.
There are ministers, elders, pastors, evangelists in the church; but there is no one who is a priest, except in the general sense that all are priests – because the great sacrifice has been offered, and there is no expiation now to be made. The name priest, therefore should never be conferred on a minister of the gospel. It is never so given in the New Testament, and there was a reason why it should not be. The proper idea of a priest is one who offers sacrifice; but the ministers of the New Testament have no sacrifices to offer – the one great and perfect oblation for the sins of the world having been made by the Redeemer on the cross. To him, and him alone, under the New Testament dispensation, should the name priest be given, as it is uniformly in the New Testament, except in the general sense in which it is given to all Christians. In the Roman Catholic communion it is consistent to give the name “priest” to a minister of the gospel, but it is wrong to do it.
It is consistent, because they claim that a true sacrifice of the body and blood of Christ is offered in the mass. It is wrong, because that doctrine is wholly contrary to the New Testament, and is derogatory to the one perfect Oblation which has been once made for the sins of the world, and in conferring upon just one class of people a degree of importance and of power to which they have no claim, and which is so liable to abuse. But in a Protestant church it is neither consistent nor right to give the name “priest” to a minister of religion. The only sense in which the term can now be used in the Christian church is a sense in which it is applicable to all Christians alike – that they “offer the sacrifice of prayer and praise.”
To offer up spiritual sacrifices – Not bloody offerings, the blood of lambs and bullocks, but those which are the offerings of the heart – the sacrifices of prayer and praise. Since there is a priest, there is also involved the notion of a sacrifice; but that which is offered is such as all Christians offer to God, proceeding from the heart, and breathed forth from the lips, and in a holy life. It is called sacrifice, not because it makes an explation for sin, but because it is of the nature of worship. Compare the notes at Heb_13:15; Heb_10:14.
Acceptable to God by Jesus Christ – Compare the notes at Rom_12:1. Through the merits of the great sacrifice made by the Redeemer on the cross. Our prayers and praises are in themselves so imperfect, and proceed from such polluted lips and hearts, that they can be acceptable only through him as our intercessor before the throne of God. Compare the notes at Heb_9:24-25; Heb_10:19-22.
1 Peter 2:6
6Wherefore also it is contained in Scripture; or, Wherefore also the Scripture contains They who refer the verb “contain” (περιέχειν) to Christ, and render it “embrace,” because through him all these unite together, wholly depart from the meaning of the Apostle. No better is another exposition, that Christ excels others; for Peter simply intended to quote the testimony of Scripture. He then shews what had been taught by the Holy Spirit in the Scriptures, or, which is the same thing, that what he adds is contained in them. Nor is it an unsuitable confirmation of the preceding verse. For we see for what slight reasons, and almost for none, many reject Christ, and some fall away from him; but this is a stumblingblock which above all other things stands in the way of some; they are drawn away, because not only the common people despise and reject Christ, but also those who are high in dignity and honor, and seem to excel others. This evil has almost ever prevailed in the world, and at this day it prevails much; for a great part of mankind judge of Christ according to the false opinion of the world. Moreover, such is the ingratitude and impiety of men, that Christ is everywhere despised. Thus it is, that while they regard one another, few pay him his due honor. Hence Peter reminds us of what had been foretold of Christ, lest the contempt or the rejection of him should move us from the faith.
Now, the first passage, which he adduces, is taken from Isa_28:16; where the Prophet, after having inveighed against the desperate wickedness of his own nation, at length adds, “Your perfidy shall not prevent God from restoring his church, which now through you lies wholly in a ruinous state.”(Isa_28:16)
The manner of restoration he thus describes, “I will lay in Sion a stone.” We hence learn that there is no building up of the Church without Christ; for there is no other foundation but he, as Paul testifies, (1Co_3:11.) This is no matter of wonder, for all our salvation is found only in him. Whosoever, then, turns away from him in the least degree, will find his foundation a precipice.
Therefore the Prophet not only calls him a corner-stone, which connects the whole edifice, but also a stone of trial, according to which the building is to be measured and regulated; and farther, he calls him a solid foundation, which sustains the whole edifice. He is thus, then, a corner-stone, that he might be the rule of the building, as well as the only foundation. But Peter took from the words of the Prophet what was especially suitable to his argument, even that he was a chosen stone, and in the highest degree valuable and excellent, and also that on him we ought to build. This honor is ascribed to Christ, that how much soever he may be despised by the world, he may not be despised by us; for by God he is regarded as very precious. But when he calls him a corner-stone, he intimates that those have no concern for their salvation who do not recumb on Christ. What some have refined on the word “corner,” as though it meant that Christ joins together Jews and Gentiles, as two distinct walls, is not well founded. Let us, then, be content with a simple explanation, that he is so called, because the weight of the building rests on him.
We must further observe, that the Prophet introduces God as the speaker, for he alone forms and plans his own Church, as it is said in Psa_78:69, that his hand had founded Sion. He, indeed, employs the labor and ministry of men in building it; but this is not inconsistent with the truth that it is his own work. Christ, then, is the foundation of our salvation, because he has been ordained for this end by the Father.
And he says in Sion, because there God’s spiritual temple was to have its beginning. That our faith, therefore, may firmly rest on Christ, we must come to the Law and to the Prophets. For though this stone extends to the extreme parts of the world, it was yet necessary for it to be located first in Sion, for there at that time was the seat of the Church. But it is said to have been then set, when the Father revealed him for the purpose of restoring his Church. In short, we must hold this, that those only rest on Christ, who keep the unity of the Church, for he is not set as a foundation-stone except in Sion. As from Sion the Church went forth, which is now everywhere spread, so also from Sion our faith has derived its beginning, as Isaiah says, “From Sion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.” (Isa_2:3.)
Corresponding with this is what is said in the Psalms, “The scepter of thy power will the Lord send forth from Sion.” (Psa_110:2.)
He that believeth The Prophet does not say in him, but declares generally, “He that believeth shall not make haste.” As, however, there is no doubt but that God sets forth Christ there as the object of our faith, the faith of which the Prophet speaks must look on him alone. And, doubtless, no one can rightly believe, but he who is fully convinced that in Christ he ought wholly to trust.
But the words of the Prophet may be taken in two ways, either as a promise or as an exhortation. The future time is referred to, “He shall not make haste;” but in Hebrew the future is often to be taken for an imperative, “Let him not make haste.” Thus the meaning would be, “Be ye not moved in your minds, but quietly entertain your desires, and check your feelings, until the Lord will be pleased to fulfill his promise.” So he says in another place, “In silence and in quietness shall be your strength,” (Isa_30:15.)
But as the other reading seems to come nearer to Peter’s interpretation, I give it the preference. Then the sense would not be unsuitable, “He who believeth shall not waver” or vacillate; for he has a firm and permanent foundation. And it is a valuable truth, that relying on Christ, we are beyond the danger of falling. Moreover, to be ashamed (pudefieri ) means the same thing. Peter has retained the real sense of the Prophet, though he has followed the Greek version.
Wherefore also it is contained in the Scripture; literally, because it contains in Scripture. There is no article according to the best manuscripts; and the verb (περιέχει) is impersonal; it is similarly used in Josephus, ‘Ant.,’ 11.7. Compare the use of the substantive περιοχή in Act_8:32. St. Peter proceeds to quote the prophecy (Isa_28:16) to which he has already referred. Behold, I lay in Zion a chief Cornerstone, elect, precious. The passage is taken from the Septuagint, with the emission of some words not important for the present purpose. St. Paul quotes the same prophecy still more freely (Rom_9:33). The rabbinical writers understand it of Hezekiah, but the earlier Jewish interpreters regarded it as Messianic. And he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. The Hebrew words literally mean “shall not be in haste;” the Septuagint appears to give the general meaning. He that believeth (the Hebrew word נימִאֱהֶ, means “to lean upon, to build upon,” and so “to trust, to confide”) shall not be flurried and excited with vain fears and trepidation; his mind is stayed on the Lord.
1 Peter 2:6
Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture – Isa_28:16. The quotation is substantially as it is found in the Septuagint.
Behold, I lay in Sion – See the Isa_28:16 note, and Rom_9:33 note.
A chief cornerstone – The principal stone on which the corner of the edifice rests. A stone is selected for this which is large and solid, and, usually, one which is squared, and worked with care; and as such a stone is commonly laid with solemn ceremonies, so, perhaps, in allusion to this, it is here said by God that he would lay this stone at the foundation. The solemnities attending this were those which accompanied the great work of the Redeemer. See the word explained in the notes at Eph_2:20.
Elect – Chosen of God, or selected for this purpose, 1Pe_2:4.
And he that believeth on him shall not be confounded – Shall not be ashamed. The Hebrew is, “shall not make haste.” See it explained in the notes at Rom_9:33.
1 Peter 2:7
7.Unto you therefore which believe God having pronounced Christ to be a precious and a chosen stone, Peter draws the inference that he is so to us. For, no doubt, Christ is there described such as we apprehend him by faith, and such as he proves himself to be by real evidences. We ought, then, carefully to notice this inference: Christ is a precious stone in the sight of God; then he is such to the faithful. It is faith alone which reveals to us the value and excellency of Christ.
But as the design of the Apostle was to obviate the offense which the multitude of the ungodly creates, he immediately adds another clause respecting the unbelieving, that by rejecting Christ, they do not take away the honor granted him by the Father. For this purpose a verse in Psa_118:22, is quoted, that the stone which the builders rejected, is become, nevertheless, the head of the corner. It hence follows, that Christ, though opposed by his enemies, yet continues in that dignity to which he has been appointed by the Father. But we must take notice of the two things here said, — the first is, that Christ was rejected by those who bore rule in the Church of God; and the other, that their efforts were all in vain, because necessarily fulfilled must have been what God had decreed, that is, that he, as the corner-stone, should sustain the edifice.
Moreover, that this passage ought properly to be understood of Christ, not only the Holy Spirit is a witness, and Christ himself, who has thus explained it, (Mat_21:42;) but it appears also evident from this, that it was thus commonly understood before Christ came into the world; nor is there a doubt but this exposition had been delivered as it were from hand to hand from the fathers. We hence see that this was, as it were, a common saying even among children respecting the Messiah. I shall, therefore, no longer discuss this point. We may take it as granted, that David was thus rejected by his own age, that he might typify Christ.
Let us now, then, return to the first clause: Christ was rejected by the builders. This was first shadowed forth in David; for they who were in power counted him as condemned and lost. The same was fulfilled in Christ; for they who ruled in the Church, rejected him as far as they could. It might have greatly disturbed the weak, when they saw that Christ’s enemies were so many, even the priests, the elders, and teachers, in whom alone the Church was conspicuously seen. In order to remove this offense, Peter reminded the faithful that this very thing had been predicted by David. He especially addressed the Jews, to whom this properly applied; at the same time, this admonition is very useful at this day. For they who arrogate to themselves the first place of authority in the Church, are Christ’s most inveterate enemies, and with diabolical fury persecute his Gospel.
The Pope calls himself the vicar of Christ, and yet we know how fiercely he opposes him. This spectacle frightens the simple and ignorant. Why is this? even because they consider not that what David has predicted happens now. Let us, then, remember that not those only were by this prophecy warned who saw Christ rejected by the Scribes and Pharisees; but that we are also by it fortified against daily offenses, which might otherwise upset our faith. Whenever then, we see those who glory in the title of prelates, rising up against Christ, let it come to our minds, that the stone is rejected by the builders, according to the prediction of David. And as the metaphor of building is common, when political or spiritual government is spoken of, so David calls them builders, to whom is committed the care and power of governing; not because they build rightly, but because they have the name of builders, and possess the ordinary power. It hence follows, that those in office are not always God’s true and faithful ministers. It is, therefore, extremely ridiculous in the Pope and his followers to arrogate to themselves supreme and indubitable authority on this sole pretense, that they are the ordinary governors of the Church. In the first place, their vocation to govern the Church is in no way more just or more legitimate than that of Heliogabalus to govern the empire. But though we should allow them what they unblushingly claim, that they are rightly called, yet we see what David declares respecting the ordinary rulers of the Church, that they rejected Christ, so that they built a stye for swine rather than a temple for God. The other part follows, that all the great, proud of their power and dignity, shall not prevail, so that Christ should not continue in his own place.
And a stone of stumbling After having comforted the faithful, that they would have in Christ a firm and permanent foundation, though the greater part, and even the chief men, allowed him no place in the building, he now denounces the punishment which awaits all the unbelieving, in order that they might be terrified by their example. For this purpose he quotes the testimony of Isa_8:14. The Prophet there declares that the Lord would be to the Jews a stone of stumbling and rock of offense. This properly refers to Christ, as it may be seen from the context; and Paul applies it to Christ, (Rom_9:32.) For in him the God of hosts has plainly manifested himself.
Here, then, the terrible vengeance of God is denounced on all the ungodly, because Christ would be to them an offense and a stumbling, inasmuch as they refused to make him their foundation. For as the firmness and stability of Christ is such that it can sustain all who by faith recumb on him; so his hardness is so great that it will break and tear in pieces all who resist him. For there is no medium between these two things, — we must either build on him, or be dashed against him.
Unto you therefore which believe he is precious; rather, unto you therefore which believe is the honor. The apostle applies the last clause of the prophecy to his readers: they believe, they are built up by faith upon the chief Cornerstone; therefore the honor implied in the words of the prophet, “He that believeth on him shall not be confounded” is theirs. There may also be in the word τιμή, honor, an echo of the ἔντιμος (“precious,” literally, “held in honor”) of 1Pe_2:6; and thus the further meaning may be implied, “The worth which the stone has it has for you who believe” (Wiesinger, quoted by Huther). But the first explanation is nearer to the Greek. But unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the Head of the corner; rather, as in the Revised Version, for such as disbelieve. St. Peter repeats the words of the hundred and eighteenth psalm, quoted by our Lord in Mat_21:42, and by himself in Act_4:11. The builders, the priests and teachers of the Jewish Church, rejected the living Stone; but it became, and indeed through that rejection, the Head of the corner. “He became obedient unto death .. therefore God also highly exalted him.” If this psalm is post-Exilic, as most modern critics think, the cornerstone, in its first application, may be Israel regarded as a whole. The great builders, the rulers of Assyria, Babylon, Persia, had despised that stone; but it was chosen of God, and now it was set in Zion. It is possible, as Hengstenberg and Delitzsch suggest, that the building of the second temple may have recalled to the mind of the psalmist Isaiah’s prophecy of the chief Corner-stone.
1 Peter 2:7
Unto you therefore which believe – Christians are often called simply “believers,” because faith in the Saviour is one of the prominent characteristics by which they are distinguished from their fellow-men. It sufficiently describes any man, to say that he is a believer in the Lord Jesus.
He is precious – Margin, “an honor.” That is, according to the margin, it is an honor to believe on him, and should be so regarded. This is true, but it is very doubtful whether this is the idea of Peter. The Greek is ἡ τιμὴ hē timē; literally, “esteem, honor, respect, reverence;” then “value or price.” The noun is probably used in the place of the adjective, in the sense of honorable, valued, precious; and it is not incorrectly rendered in the text, “he is precious.” The connection demands this interpretation. The apostle was not showing that it was an honor to believe on Christ, but was stating the estimate which was put on him by those who believe, as contrasted with the view taken of him by the world. The truth which is taught is, that while the Lord Jesus is rejected by the great mass of people, he is regarded by all Christians as of inestimable value:
I. Of the fact there can be no doubt. Somehow, Christians perceive a value in him which is seen in nothing else. This is evinced:
(a) In their avowed estimate of him as their best friend;
(b) In their being willing so far to honor him as to commit to him the keeping of their souls, resting the whole question of their salvation upon him alone;
(c) In their readiness to keep his commands, and to serve him, while the mass of people disobey him; and,
(d) In their being willing to die for him.
II. The reasons why he is so precious to them are such as these:
(1) They are brought into a condition where they can appreciate his worth. To see the value of food, we must be hungry; of clothing, we must be exposed to the winter’s blast; of home, we must be wanderers without a dwelling-place; of medicine, we must be sick; of competence, we must be poor. So, to see the value of the Saviour, we must see that we are poor, helpless, dying sinners; that the soul is of inestimable worth; that we have no merit of our own; and that unless someone interpose, we must perish. Everyone who becomes a true Christian is brought to this condition; and in this state he can appreciate the worth of the Saviour. In this respect the condition of Christians is unlike that of the rest of mankind – for they are in no better state to appreciate the worth of the Saviour, than the man in health is to appreciate the value of the healing art, or than he who has never had a want unsupplied, the kindness of one who comes to us with an abundant supply of food.
(2) The Lord Jesus is in fact of more value to them than any other benefactor. We have had benefactors who have done us good, but none who have done us such good as he has. We have had parents, teachers, kind friends, who have provided for us, taught us, relieved us; but all that they have done for us is slight, compared with what he has done. The fruit of their kindness, for the most part, pertains to the present world; and they have not laid down their lives for us. What he has done pertains to our welfare to all eternity; it is the fruit of the sacrifice of his own life. How precious should the name and memory of one be who has laid down his own life to save us!
(3) We owe all our hopes of heaven to him; and in proportion to the value of such a hope, he is precious to us. We have no hope of salvation but in him. Take that away – blot out the name and the work of the Redeemer – and we see no way in which we could be saved; we have no prospect of being saved. As our hope of heaven, therefore, is valuable to us; as it supports us in trial; as it comforts us in the hour of death, so is the Saviour precious: and the estimate which we form of him is in proportion to the value of such a hope.
(4) There is an intrinsic value and excellency in the character of Christ, apart from his relation to us, which makes him precious to those who can appreciate his worth. In his character, abstractedly considered, there was more to attract, to interest, to love, than in that of any other one who ever lived in our world. There was more purity, more benevolence, more that was great in trying circumstances, more that was generous and self-denying, more that resembled God, than in any other one who ever appeared on earth. In the moral firmament, the character of Christ sustains a pre-eminence above all others who have lived, as great as the glory of the sun is superior to the feeble lights, though so numerous, which glimmer at midnight. With such views of him, it is not to be wondered at that, however he may be estimated by the world, “to them who believe, he is precious.”
But unto them which be disobedient – Literally, “unwilling to be persuaded,” (ἀπειθὴς apeithēs) that is, those who refused to believe; who were obstinate or contumacious, Luk_1:17; Rom_1:30. The meaning is, that to them he is made a stone against which they impinge, and ruin themselves. See the notes at 1Pe_2:8.
The stone which the builders disallowed – Which they rejected, or refused to make a cornerstone. The allusion here, by the word “builders,” is primarily to the Jews, represented as raising a temple of salvation, or building with reference to eternal life. They refused to lay this stone, which God had appointed, as the foundation of their hopes, but preferred some other foundation. See this passage explained in the Mat_21:42 note; Act_4:11 note; and Rom_9:33 note.
The same is made the head of the corner – That is, though it is rejected by the mass of people, yet God has in fact made it the cornerstone on which the whole spiritual temple rests, Act_4:11-12. However people may regard it, there is, in fact, no other hope of heaven than that which is founded on the Lord Jesus. If people are not saved by him, he becomes to them a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence.
1 Peter 2:8
8Which stumble at the word He points out here the manner in which Christ becomes a stumbling, even when men perversely oppose the word of God. This the Jews did; for though they professed themselves willing to receive the Messiah, yet they furiously rejected him when presented to them by God. The Papists do the same in the present day; they worship only the name of Christ, while they cannot endure the doctrine of the Gospel. Here Peter intimates that all who receive not Christ as revealed in the Gospel, are adversaries to God, and resist his word, and also that Christ is to none for destruction, but to those who, through headstrong wickedness and obstinacy, rush against the word of God.
And this is especially what deserves to be noticed, lest our fault should be imputed to Christ; for, as he has been given to us as a foundation, it is as it were an accidental thing that he becomes a rock of offense. In short, his proper office is to prepare us for a spiritual temple to God; but it is the fault of men that they stumble at him, even because unbelief leads men to contend with God. Hence Peter, in order to set forth the character of the conflict, said that they were the unbelieving.
Whereunto also they were appointed, or, to which they had been ordained. This passage may be explained in two ways. It is, indeed, certain that Peter spoke of the Jews; and the common interpretation is, that they were appointed to believe, for the promise of salvation was destined for them. But the other sense is equally suitable, that they had been appointed to unbelief; as Pharaoh is said to have been set up for this end, that he might resist God, and all the reprobate are destined for the same purpose. And what inclines me to this meaning is the particle καὶ (also) which is put in. If, however, the first view be preferred, then it is a vehement upbraiding; for Peter does hence enhance the sin of unbelief in the people who had been chosen by God, because they rejected the salvation that had been peculiarly ordained for them. And no doubt this circumstance rendered them doubly inexcusable, that having been called in preference to others, they had refused to hear God. But, by saying that they were appointed to believe, he refers only to their outward call, even according to the covenant which God had made generally with the whole nation. At the same time their ingratitude, as it has been said, was sufficiently proved, when they rejected the word preached to them.
Cambridge Bible 1 Pet Plumptre
8. which stumble at the word] The “word,” as before, is the sum and substance of the Gospel. Men opposing themselves to that word, looking on it as an obstacle to be got rid of, were as those who rush upon a firm-fixed stone, and who falling over it are sorely bruised.
whereunto also they were appointed] Attempts have been made to soften the apparent fatalism of the words by carrying the antecedent of the “whereunto” as far back as verse 5, and seeing in the words the statement that even those who stumbled were appointed, as far as God’s purpose was concerned, to be built up on Christ. It is, however, all but obvious that this puts a forced and artificial meaning on the Apostle’s words. What he really affirms is that it is part of God’s appointed order that the disobedient should stumble and be put to shame. And it may be noted that this way of looking on things is eminently characteristic of him. In the treachery of Judas he read the lesson that “the Scripture must needs have been fulfilled” (Act_1:16). Stumbling, however, was not necessarily identical with falling irretrievably (Rom_11:11).
Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown
1 Peter 2:8
stone of stumbling, etc. — quoted from Isa_8:14. Not merely they stumbled, in that their prejudices were offended; but their stumbling implies the judicial punishment of their reception of Messiah; they hurt themselves in stumbling over the corner-stone, as “stumble” means in Jer_13:16; Dan_11:19.
at the word — rather, join “being disobedient to the word”; so 1Pe_3:1; 1Pe_4:17.
whereunto — to penal stumbling; to the judicial punishment of their unbelief. See above.
also — an additional thought; God’s ordination; not that God ordains or appoints them to sin, but they are given up to “the fruit of their own ways” according to the eternal counsel of God. The moral ordering of the world is altogether of God. God appoints the ungodly to be given up unto sin, and a reprobate mind, and its necessary penalty. “Were appointed,” Greek, “set,” answers to “I lay,” Greek, “set,” 1Pe_2:6. God, in the active, is said to appoint Christ and the elect (directly). Unbelievers, in the passive, are said to be appointed (God acting less directly in the appointment of the sinner’s awful course) [Bengel]. God ordains the wicked to punishment, not to crime [J. Cappel]. “Appointed” or “set” (not here “FORE-ordained”) refers, not to the eternal counsel so directly, as to the penal justice of God. Through the same Christ whom sinners rejected, they shall be rejected; unlike believers, they are by God appointed unto wrath as FITTED for it. The lost shall lay all the blame of their ruin on their own sinful perversity, not on God’s decree; the saved shall ascribe all the merit of their salvation to God’s electing love and grace.
1 Peter 2:8
And a stone of stumbling – A stone over which they, stumble, or against which they impinge. The idea seems to be that of a cornerstone which projects from the building, against which they dash themselves, and by which they are made to fall. See the notes at Mat_21:44. The rejection of the Saviour becomes the means of their ruin. They refuse to build on him, and it is as if one should run against a solid projecting cornerstone of a house, that would certainly be the means of their destruction. Compare the notes at Luk_2:34. An idea similar to this occurs in Mat_21:44; “Whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken.” The meaning is, that if this foundation-stone is not the means of their salvation, it will be of their ruin. It is not a matter of indifference whether they believe on him or not – whether they accept or reject him. They cannot reject him without the most fearful consequences to their souls.
And a rock of offence – This expresses substantially the same idea as the phrase “stone of stumbling.” The word rendered “offence,” (σκάνδαλον skandalon) means properly “a trap-stick – a crooked stick on which the bait is fastened which the animal strikes against, and so springs the trap,” (Robinson, Lexicon) then “a trap, gin, snare”; and then “anything which one strikes or stumbles against; a stumbling-block.” It then denotes “that which is the cause or occasion of ruin.” This language would be strictly applicable to the Jews, who rejected the Saviour on account of his humble birth, and whose rejection of him was made the occasion of the destruction of their temple, city, and nation. But it is also applicable to all who reject him, from whatever cause; for their rejection of him will be followed with ruin to their souls. It is a crime for which God will judge them as certainly as he did the Jews who disowned him and crucified him, for the offence is substantially the same. What might have been, therefore, the means of their salvation, is made the cause of their deeper condemnation.
Even to them which stumble at the word – To all who do this. That is, they take the same kind of offence at the gospel which the Jews did at the Saviour himself. It is substantially the same thing, and the consequences must be the same. How does the conduct of the man who rejects the Saviour now, differ from that of him who rejected him when he was on the earth?
Being disobedient – 1Pe_2:7. The reason why they reject him is, that they are not disposed to obey. They are solemnly commanded to believe the gospel; and a refusal to do it, therefore, is as really an act of disobedience as to break any other command of God.
Whereunto they were appointed – (εἰς ὅ καὶ ἐτέθησαν eis ho kai etethēsan.) The word “whereunto “means unto which. But unto what? It cannot be supposed that it means that they were “appointed” to believe on him and be saved by him; for:
(1) This would involve all the difficulty which is ever felt in the doctrine of decrees or election; for it would then mean that he had eternally designated them to be saved, which is the doctrine of predestination; and,
(2) If this were the true interpretation, the consequence would follow that God had been foiled in his plan – for the reference here is to those who would not be saved, that is, to those who “stumble at that stumblingstone,” and are destroyed.
Calvin supposes that it means, “unto which rejection and destruction they were designated in the purpose of God.” So Bloomfield renders it, “Unto which (disbelief) they were destined,” (Critical Digest) meaning, as he supposes, that “into this stumbling and disobedience they were permitted by God to fall.” Doddridge interprets it, “To which also they were appointed by the righteous sentence of God, long before, even as early as in his first purpose and decree he ordained his Son to be the great foundation of his church.” Rosenmuller gives substantially the same interpretation. Clemens Romanus says it means that “they were appointed, not that they should sin, but that, sinning, they should be punished.” See Wetstein. So Macknight. “To which punishment they were appointed.” Whitby gives the same interpretation of it, that because they were disobedient, (referring, as he supposes, to the Jews who rejected the Messiah) “they were appointed, for the punishment of that disobedience, to fall and perish.”
Dr. Clark supposes that it means that they were prophesied of that they should thus fall; or that, long before, it was predicted that they should thus stumble and fall. In reference to the meaning of this difficult passage, it is proper to observe that there is in the Greek verb necessarily the idea of designation, appointment, purpose. There was some agency or intention by which they were put in that condition; some act of placing or appointing, (the word τίθημι tithēmi meaning to set, put, lay, lay down, appoint, constitute) by which this result was brought about. The fair sense, therefore, and one from which we cannot escape, is, that this did not happen by chance or accident, but that there was a divine arrangement, appointment, or plan on the part of God in reference to this result, and that the result was in conformity with that. So it is said in Jud_1:4, of a similar class of people, “For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation.” The facts were these:
(1) That God appointed his Son to be the cornerstone of his church.
(2) That there was a portion of the world which, from some cause, would embrace him and be saved.
(3) That there was another portion who, it was certain, would not embrace him.
(4) That it was known that the appointment of the Lord Jesus as a Saviour would be the occasion of their rejecting him, and of their deeper and more aggravated condemnation.
(5) That the arrangement was nevertheless made, with the understanding that all this would be so, and because it was best on the whole that it should be so, even though this consequence would follow. That is, it was better that the arrangement should be made for the salvation of people even with this result, that a part would sink into deeper condemnation, than that no arrangement should be made to save any. The primary and originating arrangement, therefore, did not contemplate them or their destruction, but was made with reference to others, and notwithstanding they would reject him, and would fall. The expression “whereunto” (εἰς ὅ eis ho) refers to this plan, as involving, under the circumstances, the result which actually followed. Their stumbling and falling was not a matter of chance, or a result which was not contemplated, but entered into the original arrangement; and the whole, therefore, might be said to be in accordance with a wise plan and purpose. And,
(6) It might he said in this sense, and in this connection, that those who would reject him were appointed to this stumbling and falling. It was what was foreseen; what entered into the general arrangement; what was involved in the purpose to save any. It was not a matter that was unforeseen, that the consequence of giving a Saviour would result in the condemnation of those who should crucify and reject him; but the whole thing, as it actually occurred, entered into the divine arrangement. It may be added, that as, in the facts in the case, nothing wrong has been done by God, and no one has been deprived of any rights, or punished more than he deserves, it was not wrong in him to make the arrangement. It was better that the arrangement should be made as it is, even with this consequence, than that none at all should be made for human salvation. Compare the Rom_9:15-18 notes; Joh_12:39-40 notes. This is just a statement, in accordance with what everywhere occurs in the Bible, that all things enter into the eternal plans of God; that nothing happens by chance; that there is nothing that was not foreseen; and that the plan is such as, on the whole, God saw to be best and wise, and therefore adopted it. If there is nothing unjust and wrong in the actual development of the plan, there was nothing in forming it. At the same time, no man who disbelieves and rejects the gospel should take refuge in this as an excuse. He was “appointed” to it no otherwise than as it actually occurs; and as they know that they are voluntary in rejecting him, they cannot lay the blame of this on the purposes of God. They are not forced or compelled to do it; but it was seen that this consequence would follow, and the plan was laid to send the Saviour notwithstanding.
1 Peter 2:9
9But ye are a chosen generation, or race. He again separates them from the unbelieving, lest driven by their example (as it is often the case) they should fall away from the faith. As, then, it is unreasonable that those whom God has separated from the world, should mix themselves with the ungodly, Peter here reminds the faithful to what great honor they had been raised, and also to what purpose they had been called. But with the same high titles which he confers on them, Moses honored the ancient people, (Exo_19:6;) but the Apostle’s object was to shew that they had recovered again, through Christ, the great dignity and honor from which they had fallen. It is at the same time true, that God gave to the fathers an earthly taste only of these blessings, and that they are really given in Christ.
The meaning then is, as though he had said, “Moses called formerly your fathers a holy nation, a priestly kingdom, and God’s peculiar people: all these high titles do now far more justly belong to you; therefore you ought to beware lest your unbelief should rob you of them.” (Exo_19:6)
In the meantime, however, as the greater part of the nation was unbelieving, the Apostle indirectly sets the believing Jews in opposition to all the rest, though they exceeded them in number, as though he had said, that those only were the children of Abraham, who believed in Christ, and that they only retained possession of all the blessings which God had by a singular privilege bestowed on the whole nation.
He calls them a chosen race, because God, passing by others, adopted them as it were in a special manner. They were also a holy nation; for God had consecrated them to himself, and destined that they should lead a pure and holy life. He further calls them a peculiar people, or, a people for acquisition, that they might be to him a peculiar possession or inheritance; for I take the words simply in this sense, that the Lord hath called us, that he might possess us as his own, and devoted to him. This meaning is proved by the words of Moses, “If ye keep my covenant, ye shall be to me a peculiar treasure beyond all other nations.” (Exo_19:5.)
There is in the royal priesthood a striking inversion of the words of Moses; for he says, “a priestly kingdom,” but the same thing is meant. So what Peter intimated was this, “Moses called your fathers a sacred kingdom, because the whole people enjoyed as it were a royal liberty, and from their body were chosen the priests; both dignities were therefore joined together: but now ye are royal priests, and, indeed, in a more excellent way, because ye are, each of you, consecrated in Christ, that ye may be the associates of his kingdom, and partakers of his priesthood. Though, then, the fathers had something like to what you have; yet ye far excel them. For after the wall of partition has been pulled down by Christ, we are now gathered from every nation, and the Lord bestows these high titles on all whom he makes his people.”
There is further, as to these benefits, a contrast between us and the rest of mankind, to be considered: and hence it appears more fully how incomparable is God’s goodness towards us; for he sanctifies us, who are by nature polluted; he chose us, when he could find nothing in us but filth and vileness; he makes his peculiar possession from worthless dregs; he confers the honor of the priesthood on the profane; he brings the vassals of Satan, of sin, and of death, to the enjoyment of royal liberty.
That ye should shew forth, or declare. He carefully points out the end of our calling, that he might stimulate us to give the glory to God. And the sum of what he says is, that God has favored us with these immense benefits and constantly manifests them, that his glory might by us be made known: for by praises, or virtues, he understands wisdom, goodness, power, righteousness, and everything else, in which the glory of God shines forth. And further, it behoves us to declare these virtues or excellencies not only by our tongue, but also by our whole life. This doctrine ought to be a subject of daily meditation, and it ought to be continually remembered by us, that all God’s blessings with which he favors us are intended for this end, that his glory may be proclaimed by us.
We must also notice what he says, that we have been called out of darkness into God’s marvellous or wonderful light; for by these words he amplifies the greatness of divine grace. If the Lord had given us light while we were seeking it, it would have been a favor; but it was a much greater favor, to draw us out of the labyrinth of ignorance and the abyss of darkness. We ought hence to learn what is man’s condition, before he is translated into the kingdom of God. And this is what Isaiah says, “Darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people; but over thee shall the Lord be seen, and his glory shall in thee shine forth.” (Isa_60:2.)
And truly we cannot be otherwise than sunk in darkness, after having departed from God, our only light. See more at large on this subject in the second chapter of the Epistle to the Ephesians.
Cambridge Bible 1 Pet Plumptre
2:9. But ye are a chosen generation] The glories that attach to the company of believers in Christ are brought before us in a mosaic of Old Testament phraseology. The “chosen generation” comes from Isa_43:20, the “royal priesthood” from the LXX. of Exo_19:6, where the English version has more accurately “a kingdom of priests.” We note the recurrence of the thought in Rev_1:6, Rev_5:10. The same passage supplies the “holy nation.”
a peculiar people] This somewhat singular word calls for a special note. The English translators appear to have used the term in its strictly etymological and almost forensic sense. The people of Christ, like Israel of old, were thought of as the special peculium, the possession, or property, of God. The adjective, however, has acquired in common usage so different a meaning that it would be better to translate the words, a people for a special possession. The noun or the cognate verb is found in the LXX. of the “special people” of Deu_7:6, in the “jewels” of Mal_3:17. The context shews however that Isa_43:21 was most prominently in the Apostle’s thoughts, “This people have I formed for myself (or, gained as a possession for myself); they shall shew forth my praise.” In Eph_1:14 the noun is rendered by “purchased possession,” in 1Th_5:9, 2Th_2:14, by “obtaining,” in Heb_10:39 by “saving.” The primary idea of the Greek verb is that of acquiring for oneself by purchase or otherwise, and the noun accordingly denotes either the act of acquiring or that which is so acquired. Cranmer’s Bible gives “a people which are won:” the Rhemish Version “a people of purchase.”
that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you] The word for “praises” is that commonly used by Greek ethical writers for “virtue,” and is so rendered in Php_4:8 and 2Pe_1:3, 2Pe_1:5. St Peter’s choice of the term was determined apparently, as intimated in the preceding note, by its use in the LXX. of Isa_43:21. Here, since the associations of the word in English hardly allow us to speak of the “virtues” of God, “excellences” would perhaps be a more adequate rendering: the Greek word, though connected both by Greek ethical writers (Aristot. Eth. Nicom. iii. 1) and by St Paul (Php_4:8) with the thought of praise, cannot well itself have that meaning. The almost uniform reference, throughout the New Testament, of the act of calling to the Father, justifies the conclusion that St Peter so thinks of it here.
Darkness is, of course, the natural symbol for man’s ignorance of God (comp. Joh_8:12, Act_26:18, Eph_5:8-13, Rom_13:12), as light is for the true knowledge of Him. The epithet “marvellous,” or wonderful, as applied to that light is peculiar to St Peter. Looking to the stress laid on the glory of the Transfiguration in 2Pe_1:16-18, we may, perhaps, see in this passage the impression which had been made upon him by what he had then seen of the “marvellous light” of the Eternal. Into that light, of which what he had seen was but the outward symbol, not he only but all who believed in Christ had now been called.
But ye are a chosen generation. The pronoun “ye” is emphatic. St. Peter is drawing a contrast between the disobedient and unbelieving Jews and Christian people whether Jews or Gentiles; he ascribes to Christians, in a series of phrases quoted from the Old Testament, the various privileges which had belonged to the children of Israel. The words, “a chosen generation” (γένος ἐκλεκτόν), are from Isa_43:20, Γένος μου τὸ ἐκλεκτόν. The Cornerstone is elect, precious; the living stones built thereupon are elect likewise. The whole Christian Church is addressed as an elect race, one race, because all its members are begotten again of the one Father. A royal priesthood. Instead of “holy,” as in Isa_43:5, St. Peter has here the epithet “royal.” He follows the Septuagint Version of Exo_19:6; the Hebrew has “a kingdom of priests.” The word “royal” may mean that God’s elect shall sit with Christ in his throne, and reign with him (Rev_3:21; Rev_5:10), and that in some sense they reign with him now over their lower nature, their desires and appetites; or, more probably, the priesthood of Christians is called “royal” because it belongs to the King—”a priesthood serving Jehovah the King, just as we speak of ‘the royal household’” (Weiss, quoted by Huther). An holy nation. Also from Exo_19:6. The Israelites were a holy nation as separated from the heathen and consecrated to God’s service by circumcision. Christians of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, are one nation under one King, separated to his service, dedicated to him in holy baptism. A peculiar people. The Greek words. λαὸς εἰς περιποίησιν, represent the words, הלָּגֻסְ מעַ, of Deu_7:6, translated by the LXX. λαὸν περιούσιον, “a special people” (Authorized Version). St. Paul also has this translation in Tit_2:14. The Hebrew word הלָּגֻסְ in Ma 3:17 is rendered by the LXX. εἰς περιποίησιν, by the Authorized Version “my jewels.” The children of Israel are called הוָחֹיְ תלַּגֻסְ, as the peculium, the private, special, treasured possession of God. God says of them, in Isa_43:21, “This people have I formed for myself; they shall show forth my praise;” rendered by the LXX. Λαόν μου ὂν περιεποιησάμην τὰς ἀρετάς μου διηγεῖσθαι, God hath now chosen us Christians to be the Israel of God; the Christian Church is his peculium, his treasure, “a people for God’s own possession” (Revised Version). The literal meaning of the Greek words used by St. Peter is “a people for acquisition,” or “for keeping safe,” the verb having the sense of “gaining, acquiring,” and also that of “preserving, keeping for one’s self” with his own blood”). That ye should show forth the praises of him. That ye should tell out, publish abroad. The verb is found nowhere else in the New Testament. The word translated “praises” (ἀρετάς, literally, “virtues”), so very common in classical writers, occurs in the New Testament only here, 2Pe_1:3, 2Pe_1:5, and Php_4:8. Here St. Peter is quoting from the Septuagint Version of Isa_43:21 (the word is similarly used in Isa_42:12 and Isa_63:7). Perhaps the best rendering is that of the Revised Version, “excellencies.” Who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. He had chosen them before the foundation of the world; he called them when they received the gospel: “Whom he did predestinate, them he also called.” He called them out of the darkness of ignorance and sin. The Gentiles walked in utter darkness, in less measure the Jews also. The light of his presence is marvelous, wonderful; those who walk in that light feel something of its irradiating glory.
1 Peter 2:9
But ye are a chosen generation – In contradistinction from those who, by their disobedience, had rejected the Saviour as the foundation of hope. The people of God are often represented as his chosen or elected people. See the notes at 1Pe_1:2.
A royal priesthood – See the notes at 1Pe_2:5. The meaning of this is, probably, that they “at once bore the dignity of kings, and the sanctity of priests” – Doddridge. Compare Rev_1:6; “And hath made us kings and priests unto God.” See also Isa_61:6; “But ye shall be named priests of the Lord; men shall call ye ministers of our God.” It may be, however, that the word royal is used only to denote the dignity of the priestly office which they sustained, or that they constituted, as it were, an entire nation or kingdom of priests. They were a kingdom over which he presided, and they were all priests; so that it might be said they were a kingdom of priests – a kingdom in which all the subjects were engaged in offering sacrifice to God. The expression appears to be taken from Exo_19:6 – “And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests” – and is such language as one who had been educated as a Jew would be likely to employ to set forth the dignity of those whom he regarded as the people of God.
An holy nation – This is also taken from Exo_19:6. The Hebrews were regarded as a nation consecrated to God; and now that they were cast off or rejected for their disobedience, the same language was properly applied to the people whom God had chosen in their place – the Christian church.
A peculiar people – Compare the notes at Tit_2:14. The margin here is purchased. The word “peculiar,” in its common acceptation now, would mean that they were distinguished from others, or were singular. The reading in the margin would mean that they had been bought or redeemed. Both these things are so, but neither of them expresses the exact sense of the original. The Greek λαὸς εἰς περιποίησιν laos eis peripoiēsin) means, “a people for a possession;” that is, as pertaining to God. They are a people which he has secured as a possession, or as his own; a people, therefore, which belong to him, and to no other. In this sense they are special as being His; and, being such, it may be inferred that they should be special in the sense of being unlike others (unique) in their manner of life. But that idea is not necessarily in the text. There seems to be here also an allusion to Exo_19:5; “Ye shall be a peculiar treasure with me (Septuagint λαὸς περιούσιος laos periousios) above all people.”
That ye should show forth the praises of him – Margin, “virtues.” The Greek word (ἀρετὴ aretē) means properly “good quality, excellence” of any kind. It means here the excellences of God – His goodness, His wondrous deeds, or those things which make it proper to praise Him. This shows one great object for which they were redeemed. It was that they might proclaim the glory of God, and keep up the remembrance of His wondrous deeds in the earth. This is to be done:
(a) By proper ascriptions of praise to him in public, family, and social worship;
(b) By being always the avowed friends of God, ready ever to vindicate His government and ways;
(c) By endeavoring to make known His excellences to all those who are ignorant of Him; and,
(d) By such a life as shall constantly proclaim His praise – as the sun, the moon, the stars, the hills, the streams, the flowers do, showing what God does. The consistent life of a devoted Christian is a constant setting forth of the praise of God, showing to all that the God who has made him such is worthy to be loved.
Who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light – On the word called, see the notes at Eph_4:1. Darkness is the emblem of ignorance, sin, and misery, and refers here to their condition before their conversion; light is the emblem of the opposite, and is a beautiful representation of the state of those who are brought to the knowledge of the gospel. See the notes at Act_26:18. The word marvelous means wonderful; and the idea is, that the light of the gospel was such as was unusual, or not to be found elsewhere, as that excites wonder or surprise which we are not accustomed to see. The primary reference here is, undoubtedly, to those who had been pagans, and to the great change which had been produced by their having been brought to the knowledge of the truth as revealed in the gospel; and, in regard to this, no one can doubt that the one state deserved to be characterized as darkness, and the other as light. The contrast was as great as that between midnight and noonday. But what is here said is substantially correct of all who are converted, and is often as strikingly true of those who have been brought up in Christian lands, as of those who have lived among the pagans. The change in conversion is often so great and so rapid, the views and feelings are so different before and after conversion, that it seems like a sudden transition from midnight to noon. In all cases, also, of true conversion, though the change may not be so striking, or apparently so sudden, there is a change of which this may be regarded as substantially an accurate description. In many cases the convert can adopt this language in all its fulness, as descriptive of his own conversion; in all cases of genuine conversion it is true that each one can say that he has been called from a state in which his mind was dark to one in which it is comparatively clear.
1 Peter 2:10
10Which in time past were not a people He brings for confirmation a passage from Hosea, and well accommodates it to his own purpose. For Hosea, after having in God’s name declared that the Jews were repudiated, gives them a hope of a future restoration. Peter reminds us that this was fulfilled in his own age; for the Jews were scattered here and there, as the torn members of a body; nay, they seemed to be no longer God’s people, no worship remained among them, they were become entangled in the corruptions of the heathens; it could not then be said otherwise of them, but that they were repudiated by the Lord. But when they are gathered in Christ, from no people they really become the people of God. Paul, in Rom_9:26, applies also this prophecy to the Gentiles, and not without reason; for from the time the Lord’s covenant was broken, from which alone the Jews derived their superiority, they were put on a level with the Gentiles. It hence follows, that what God had promised, to make a people of no people, belongs in common to both.
Which had not obtained mercy This was added by the Prophet, in order that the gratuitous covenant of God, by which he takes them to be his people, might be more clearly set forth; as though he had said, “There is no other reason why the Lord counts us his people, except that he, having mercy on us, graciously adopts us.” It is then God’s gratuitous goodness, which makes of no people a people to God, and reconciles the alienated.
Cambridge Bible 1Pet Plumptre
2:10. Which in time past were not a people] The reference is to the children of Gomer, with their strange ill-omened names, Lo-Ammi and Lo-Ruhamah (Hos_1:2.): but it may be a question whether the citation is made directly from the prophet, or is traceable to St Paul’s use of it in Rom_9:25. In favour of the former view is the fact that St Peter quotes it (1) in a different form from St Paul’s, giving “had not obtained mercy” for “not beloved,” following in this the text of the Alexandrian MS. of the LXX., and (2) in a different application, St Paul referring it to the calling of the Gentiles, while he applies it to that of Israel. Some interpreters, indeed, have seen in this passage also a proof that St Peter was writing to Gentile converts or thinking of them chiefly, but it may well be urged against this view that if the history of the prophet’s adulterous wife had been to him a parable of the sin and repentance of Israel, it might well be so to the Apostle also. Had not his Master spoken of the people as “an evil and adulterous generation” (Mat_12:39)? Had not his friend St James addressed them as “adulterers and adulteresses” (Jam_4:4)?
1 Peter 2:10
Which in time past were not a people – That is, who formerly were not regarded as the people of God. There is an allusion here to the passage in Hos_2:23, “And I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy; and I will say to them which were not my people, Thou art my people; and they shall say, Thou art my God.” It is, however, a mere allusion, such as one makes who uses the language of another to express his ideas, without meaning to say that both refer to the same subject. In Hosea, the passage refers evidently to the reception of one portion of the Israelites into favor after their rejection; in Peter, it refers mainly to those who had been Gentiles, and who had never been recognized as the people of God. The language of the prophet would exactly express his idea, and he therefore uses it without intending to say that this was its original application. See it explained in the notes at Rom_9:25. Compare the notes at Eph_2:11-12.
Which had not obtained mercy – That is, who had been living unpardoned, having no knowledge of the way by which sinners might be forgiven, and no evidence that your sins were forgiven. They were then in the condition of the whole pagan world, and they had not then been acquainted with the glorious method by which God forgives iniquity.