1 Peter 2:18
18Servants, be subject Though this is a particular admonition, yet it is connected with what is gone before, as well as the other things which follow; for the obedience of servants to masters, and of wives also to their husbands, forms a part of civil or social subjection.
He first would have servants to be subject with all fear; by which expression he means that sincere and willing reverence, which they acknowledge by their office to be due. He then sets this fear in opposition to dissimulation as well as to forced subjection; for an eye-service (ὀφθαλμοδουλεία, Col_3:22,) as Paul calls it, is the opposite of this fear; and further, if servants clamor against severe treatment, being ready to throw off the yoke if they could, they cannot be said properly to fear. In short, fear arises from a right knowledge of duty. And though no exception is added in this place, yet, according to other places, it is to be understood. For subjection due to men is not to be so far extended as to lessen the authority of God. Then servants are to be subject to their masters, only as far as God permits, or as far as the altars, as they say. But as the word here is not δοῦλοι, slaves, but οἰκέται , domestics, we may understand the free as well as the bond servants to be meant, though it be a difference of little moment.
Not only to the good Though as to the duty of servants to obey their masters, it is wholly a matter of conscience; if, however, they are unjustly treated, as to themselves, they ought not to resist authority. Whatever, then, masters may be, there is no excuse for servants for not faithfully obeying them. For when a superior abuses his power, he must indeed hereafter render an account to God, yet he does not for the present lose his right. For this law is laid on servants, that they are to serve their masters, though they may be unworthy. For the froward he sets in opposition to the equitable or humane; and by this word he refers to the cruel and the perverse, or those who have no humanity and kindness.
It is a wonder what could have induced an interpreter to change one Greek word for another, and render it “wayward.” I should say nothing of the gross ignorance of the Sorbons, who commonly understand by wayward, (dyscolos ,) the dissolute or dissipated, were it not that they seek by this absurd rendering to build up for us an article of faith, that we ought to obey the Pope and his horned wild beasts, however grievous and intolerable a tyranny they may exercise. This passage, then, shews how boldly they trifle with the Word of God.
Cambridge Bible 1Pet Plumptre
18. Servants, be subject to your masters] The counsels thus opening are carried on to the close of the chapter. The fulness with which slaves are thus addressed, here and in Eph_6:5-8, Col_3:22, 1Ti_6:1, 1Ti_6:2, indicates the large proportion of converts that belonged to that class. Nearly all the names in Rom_16 and many of those of other members of the Church are found in the Columbaria or Catacombs of Rome as belonging to slaves or freedmen. The term for “servants,” here and in Luk_16:13, Act_10:7, Rom_14:4, differs from the more common word as pointing specially to household servants, the “domestics” of a family. It may have been chosen by St Peter as including the wide class of libertini or freedmen and freedwomen who, though no longer in the status of slavery, were still largely employed in the households of the upper classes, as scribes, musicians, teachers, physicians, needle-women and the like. It is obvious that the new thoughts of converts to the faith of Christ must have brought with them some peculiar dangers. They had learnt that all men were equal in the sight of God. Might they not be tempted to assert that equality in word or act? They felt themselves raised to a higher life than their heathen masters. Could they endure to serve loyally and humbly those whom they looked on as doomed to an inevitable perdition? Was it not their chief duty to escape by flight or purchase from the degradation and dangers of their position? The teaching of St Paul in 1Co_7:21-23, as well as in the passages above referred to, shews how strongly he felt the urgency of this danger. Cardinal Wiseman’s Fabiola may be mentioned as giving, with special vividness and insight, a picture of this aspect of the social life of the early Church.
with all fear] So St Paul urges obedience “with fear and trembling” (Eph_6:5).
There was, looking to the then existing relations of society, a comparative nobleness in a service into which the fear of offending their master, as distinct from the mere dread of the scourge or other punishment, entered as a motive into the obedience of slaves. And this was not to depend on the character of the master. He might be good and easy-going, or perverse and irritable. Their duty was in either case to submit, with thankfulness in the one case, with a cheerful patience in the other.
Servants. The word is not δοῦλοι, slaves,but οἰκέται, household servants, domestics. St. Peter may have used it as a less harsh term, in Christian kindliness and courtesy; or he may have chosen it purposely to include the large class of freedmen and other dependents who were to be found in the houses of the great. The frequent mention of slaves in the Epistles shows that many of the first Christians must have been in a condition of servitude. It was only natural that men should feel uneasy and irritable under the yoke of slavery as they came to learn the equality of all men in the sight of God, and to understand the blessed privileges and the high hopes of Christians. The apostles counseled submission and resignation to the will of God. Slavery was an unnatural institution; it must in time disappear under the softening influences of the gospel. But Christian slaves were to wait in faith and patience. The sacred writers use language of studied moderation, carefully avoiding any expressions which might be regarded as exciting to violence or revolutionary outbreaks. Be subject to your masters with all fear. The participle ὑποτασσόμενοι seems to look back to the imperative ὑποτάγητε in 1Pe_2:13; the relation of slaves to their lords being one of the ordinances of man alluded to there (comp. Eph_6:5, where St. Paul bids slaves to be obedient to their masters “with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ”). The holy fear of God, by whose providence they were set in that lowly station, would involve the fear of failing in their duty to their masters. All fear; not only fear of punishment, but also fear of neglecting duty. Not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward. Servants must not make the character of their masters an excuse for disobedience; if their masters are froward (σκολιοί, literally, “crooked, perverse”), still they must be submissive to the wilt of God.
1 Peter 2:18
Household servants. So Rev., in margin. Not a common term in the New Testament, occurring only in three other passages: Luk_16:13; Act_10:7; Rom_14:4. Some suppose that Peter intended to cover by it freedmen and other dependants in the household, or that he uses it with a conciliatory purpose, as presenting the slave in closer relation with the family.
A common derivation of this word is from εἴκω, to yield. Hence the meaning, mind, yielding, indulgent. But the true derivation is from εἰκός, reasonable; and the word implies rather the not being unduly rigorous: “Wherein not strictness of legal right, but consideration for one another, is the rule of practice” (Alford). Compare Phi_4:5, where, for moderation (τὸ ἐπιεικὲς), Rev. gives forbearance, with gentleness in margin. According to Aristotle, the word stands in contrast with ἀκριβοδίκαιος, one who is exactingly just, as one who is satired with less than his due.
Lit., crooked. See Luk_3:5. Peter uses the word in Act_2:40 (untoward); and Paul, in Phi_2:15 (crooked). The word froward is Anglo-Saxon fream-ward or from-ward, the opposite of to-ward. (See untoward, above.) Thus Ben Jonson:
“Those that are froward to an appetite;” i.e., averse. Compare the phrases to-God-ward (2Co_3:4); to-us-ward.
1 Peter 2:19
19For this is thankworthy The word grace or favor, has the meaning of praise; for he means that no grace or praise shall be found before God, if we bear the punishment which we have by our faults deserved; but that they who patiently bear injuries and wrongs are worthy of praise and accepted by God. To testify that it was acceptable to God, when any one from conscience towards God persevered in doing his duty, though unjustly and unworthily treated, was at that time very necessary; for the condition of servants was very hard: they were counted no better than cattle. Such indignity might have driven them to despair; the only thing left for them was to look to God.
For conscience towards God means this, that one performs his duty, not from a regard to men, but to God. For, when a wife is submissive and obedient to her husband, in order to please him, she has her reward in this world, as Christ says of the ambitious, who looked to the praise of men, (Mat_6:16.) The same view is to be taken of other cases: When a son obeys his father in order to secure his favor and bounty, he will have his reward from his father, not from God. It is, in short, a general truth, that what we do is approved by God, if our object be to serve him, and if we are not influenced by a regard to man alone. Moreover, he who considers that he has to do with God, must necessarily endeavor to overcome evil with good. For, God not only requires that we should be such to every one as he is to us, but also that we should be good to the unworthy and to such as persecute us.
Cambridge Bible 1Pet Plumptre
19. For this is thankworthy] The word charis, commonly translated “grace,” is here used in the sense, which attaches also to the Latin gratia, as in ago tibi gratias, and the French mille graces, of thanks or cause for thanks. So in Luk_6:32 the same word is used in “what thank have ye,” where the context shews that it is equivalent to a “reward,” and in that case, as in this, a reward from God. It is not unreasonable to suppose that St Peter’s choice of the term was determined by the use of it which St Luke records in his report of the Sermon on the Plain.
for conscience toward God] Literally, consciousness of God, i.e. of His presence as seeing, judging, helping, rewarding, His suffering servants. The phrase is analogous to the “conscience of the idol” in 1Co_8:7.
suffering wrongfully] Natural impulse, one might almost say natural ethics, sanctions the burning indignation and desire to retaliate which is caused by the sense of wrong. Here, as in the Sermon on the Mount (Mat_5:39), which this teaching distinctly reproduces, that is made the crucial instance in which the Christian is to shew that the law of Christ is his rule of life. It is obvious that in this case the allowance of any exception to the rule would make it altogether inoperative. Each party in a dispute or quarrel thinks himself at the moment in the right, and it is only by acting on the principle that the more he believes himself to be in the right the more it is his duty to submit patiently, that a man can free himself from an endless entanglement of recriminations and retaliations.
For this is thankworthy; literally, this is grace (comp. Luk_6:32, Ποία ὑμῖν χάρις ἐστί; “What thank have ye?” where the parallel passage in St. Matthew is Τίνα μισθὸν ἔχετε; “What reward have ye?”). A comparison of these passages seems to show that χάρις and μισθός are used in a similar sense as expressive of God’s condescending love. In his gracious tenderness he speaks of reward, though we deserve only punishment; he even speaks of thanks, though we deserve only condemnation. Other possible explanations are, “This is the work of God’s grace;” or, “This is lovely;” or, “This is favor;” or “This implies” or “This causes favor with God.” If a man for conscience toward God; literally, for conscience of God; that is, consciousness of God’s presence, of his will, of our duties to him. This is better than to take the genitive as subjective, and to interpret, “because of the consciousness of God,” because he sees and knows all that we do and say and think. Endure grief, suffering wrongfully; literally, griefs, λύπας (comp. λυπηθέντες, 1Pe_1:6). St. Peter echoes our Lord’s teaching in the sermon on the mount (Mat_5:39).
1 Peter 2:19
For this is thank-worthy – Margin, “thank.” Greek, “This is grace,” (χάρις charis). Doddridge renders the expression, “This is graceful indeed.” Various interpretations of this expression have been proposed; but the meaning evidently is, that it is acceptable to God, (see 1Pe_2:20, “this is acceptable to God” – χάρις παρὰ Θεῷ charis para Theō;) that is, this will be regarded by him with favor. It does not mean that it was worthy of thanks, or that God would thank them for doing it, (compare Luk_17:9-10;) but that such conduct would meet with his approbation.
If a man for conscience toward God – If, in the conscientious discharge of his duty, or if, in the endurance of this wrong, he regards himself as serving God. That is, if he feels that God, by his providence, has placed him in the circumstances in which he is, and that it is a duty which he owes to him to bear every trial incident to that condition with a submissive spirit. If he does this, he will evince the true nature of religion, and will be graciously accepted of God.
Endure grief – That is, endure that which is suited to produce grief, or that which is wrong.
Suffering wrongfully – Suffering injury, or where there is “injustice,” (πάσχων ἀδίκως paschōn adikō̄s.) This, though a general remark, has particular reference to servants, and to their duty in the relation which they sustain to their masters.
In view of what is here said, we may remark:
(1) That if this has reference to slaves, as has been usually supposed, it proves that they are very liable to be abused; that they have little or no security against being wronged; and that it was a special and very desirable characteristic of those who were in that condition, to be able to bear wrong with a proper spirit. It is impossible so to modify slavery that this shall not be the case; for the whole system is one of oppression, and there can be nothing that shall effectually secure the slave from being ill-treated.
(2) It would follow from this passage, if this refers to slavery, that that is a very hard and undesirable condition of life; for that is a very undesirable condition where the principal virtue. which they who are in it are required to exercise, is “patience under wrongs.” Such a condition cannot be in accordance with the gospel, and cannot be designed by God to be permanent. The relation of parent and child is never thus represented. It is never said or implied in the Scriptures that the principal virtue to which children are exhorted is patience under wrongs; nor, in addressing them, is it ever supposed that the most prominent thing in their condition is, that they would need the exercise of such patience.
(3) It is acceptable to God, if we bear wrong with a proper spirit, from whatever quarter it may come. Our proper business in life is, to do the will of God; to evince the right spirit, however others may treat us; and to show, even under excessive wrong, the sustaining power and the excellence of true religion. Each one who is oppressed and wronged, therefore, has an eminent opportunity to show a spirit which will honor the gospel; and the slave and the martyr may do more to honor the gospel than if they were both permitted to enjoy liberty and life undisturbed.
1 Peter 2:20
It is not, however, an assertion without its difficulty, when he says, that there is nothing praiseworthy in him who is justly punished; for, when the Lord punishes our sins, patience is certainly a sacrifice of sweet odour to him, that is, when we bear with a submissive mind our punishment. But to this I reply, that Peter does not here speak simply but comparatively; for it is a small and slender praise to bear with submission a just punishment, in comparison with that of an innocent man, who willingly bears the wrongs of men, only because he fears God. At the same time he seems indirectly to refer to the motive; because they who suffer punishment for their faults, are influenced by the fear of men. But the reply already given is sufficient.
Cambridge Bible 1 Pet Plumptre
20. if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently] Literally, if when ye are buffeted, being in fault, ye shall endure it. The common practice of Roman life, as of all countries in which slavery has prevailed, made the blow with the hand, the strict meaning of “buffeting” (Mar_14:65), or the stroke of the scourge, a thing of almost daily usage.
this is acceptable with God] The Greek word is the same as that rendered “thankworthy” in the previous verse. It would obviously have been better, though “acceptable” expresses the sense fairly enough, to have retained that word here also.
For what glory is it? The word translated “glory” (κλέος), common in Greek poetry, occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It means, first, “rumor, report;” then “fame, renown.” If, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently; literally, if sinning and being buffeted. The word translated “buffeted” (κολαφιζόμενοι), used by St. Matthew and St. Mark in describing our Savior’s sufferings, has a figurative meaning in 1Co_4:11; 2Co_12:7. It is probably used literally here; blows were a common occurrence in the life of slaves. To be patient when suffering deserved punishment is often difficult, but it is no more than a simple duty; it would not be for the glory of religion. Christian slaves ought to do their duty to their masters, and not deserve punishment. But if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently; literally, but if doing well, and suffering.
The words “for it” are not in the Greek. This is acceptable with God. If we read “for” (τοῦτο γὰρ), with some of the best manuscripts, we must supply “there is glory” after the last clause. “It, doing well and suffering, ye take it patiently, there is glory (κλέος), for this is thank-worthy (χάρις) with God.” Such conduct will bring honor to Christianity, for it is thankworthy even in the sight of God. When Christian men and women took cruel sufferings patiently and joyfully, as the apostles did (Act_5:41; Act_16:25), that was more than a mere recognized duty—that showed the power of Christian motives, that brought glory to Christianity, and was held to be thankworthy (such is God’s gracious condescension) even in the sight of God. The word for “acceptable” here is that translated “thankworthy” in 2Co_12:19, where see note.
1 Peter 2:20
For what glory is it – What honor or credit would it be.
If, when ye be buffeted for your faults – That is, if you are punished when you deserve it. The word “buffet” (κολαφίζω kolaphizō) – means, to strike with the fist; and then to strike in any way; to maltreat, Mat_26:67; Mar_14:65; 1Co_4:11; 2Co_12:7. Perhaps there may be a reference here to the manner in which servants were commonly treated, or the kind of pun ishment to which they were exposed. They would be likely to be struck in sudden anger, either by the hand, or by anything that was accessible. The word rendered “for your faults,” is sinning, (ἁμαρτάνοντες hamartanontes.) That is, “if being guilty of an offence, or having done wrong.” The idea is, that if they were justly punished, and should take it patiently, there would be no credit or honor in it.
Ye shall take it patiently – “If, even then, you evince an uncomplaining spirit, and bear it with the utmost calmness and patience, it would be regarded as comparatively no virtue, and as entitling you to no honor. The feeling of all who saw it would be that you deserved it, and there would be nothing to excite their sympathy or compassion. The patience evinced might indeed be as great as in the other case, but there would be the feeling that you deserved all that you received, and the spirit evinced in that case could not be regarded as entitled to any particular praise. If your masters are inflicting on you only what you deserve, it would be in the highest degree shameful for you to rise up against them, and resist them, for it would be only adding to the wrong which you had already done.” The expression here is, doubtless, to be understood comparatively. The meaning is not that absolutely there would be no more credit due to one who should bear his punishment patiently when he had done wrong, than if he had met it with resistance and complaining; but that there is very little credit in that compared with the patience which an innocent person evinces, who, from regard to the will of God, and by control over all the natural feelings of resentment, meekly endures wrong.
This expresses the common feeling of our nature. We attribute no particular credit to one who submits to a just punishment even with a calm temper. We feel that it would be wrong in the highest degree for him to do otherwise. So it is when calamities are brought on a man on account of his sins. If it is seen to be the fruit of intemperance or crime, we do not feel that there is any great virtue exhibited if he bears it with a calm temper. But if he is overwhelmed with calamity when it seems to have no particular connection with his sins, or to be a punishment for any particular fault; if he suffers at the hand of man, where there is manifest injustice done him, and yet evinces a calm, submissive, and meek temper, we feel that in such cases there is eminent virtue.
This is acceptable with God – Margin, as in 1Pe_2:19, “thank.” It is that which is agreeable to him, or with which he is pleased.
1 Peter 2:21
21For even hereunto were ye called For though his discourse was respecting servants, yet this passage ought not to be confined to that subject. For the Apostle here reminds all the godly in common as to what the condition of Christianity is, as though he had said, that we are called by the Lord for this end, patiently to bear wrongs; and as he says in another place that we are appointed to this. Lest, however, this should seem grievous to us, he consoles us with the example of Christ. Nothing seems more unworthy, and therefore less tolerable, than undeservedly to suffer; but when we turn our eyes to the Son of God, this bitterness is mitigated; for who would refuse to follow him going before us?
But we must notice the words, Leaving us an example For as he treats of imitation, it is necessary to know what in Christ is to be our example. He walked on the sea, he cleansed the leprous, he raised the dead, he restored sight to the blind: to try to imitate him in these things would be absurd. For when he gave these evidences of his power, it was not his object that we should thus imitate him. It has hence happened that his fasting for forty days has been made without reason an example; but what he had in view was far otherwise. We ought, therefore, to exercise in this respect a right judgment; as also Augustine somewhere reminds us, when explaining the following passage, “Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart.”(Mat_11:29.)
And the same thing may be learnt from the words of Peter; for he marks the difference by saying that Christ’s patience is what we ought to follow. This subject is handled more at large by Paul in Rom_8:29, where he teaches us that all the children of God are foreordained to be made conformable to the image of Christ, in order that he might be the first-born among many brethren. Hence, that we may live with him, we must previously die with him.
Cambridge Bible 1Pet Plumptre
21. For even hereunto were ye called] The thoughts of the Apostle travel from the teaching of Christ which he had heard to the life which he had witnessed. The very calling to be a disciple involved the taking up the cross and following Him (Mat_10:38, Mat_10:16:24; Luk_14:27). It was the very law of the Christian life that men “must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God” (Act_14:22). And if this was true of all believers it was true in a yet higher sense of those who, when they were called to know Christ, were called as slaves, and as such were to abide in that calling and find in it a discipline of sanctification (comp. 1Co_7:22). And the Apostle had seen what that taking up the cross involved. It is not without significance that in almost every instance in which the example of Christ is referred to, it is in special connexion with His patience under sufferings. Stress is laid on his suffering for us, as making the analogy of the pattern sufferer more complete. He, too, was “buffeted” for no fault of His (Mat_26:67).
leaving us an example] The Greek noun, not found elsewhere in the New Testament, seems to have been a technical word for the drawing which was set before young students of art for them to copy. Such a picture of patience under suffering St Peter now paints, as with a few vivid touches, and sets it before those who were novices in the school of the Christ-like life that they may become artists worthy of their Master.
For even hereunto were ye called; that is, to do good and to suffer patiently. Omit “even,” for which there is no authority. St. Peter is speaking of slaves, but what he says of slaves is true in some sense of all Christians (comp. Act_14:22). Because Christ also suffered for us; rather, for you, with the oldest manuscripts. You do not suffer alone; Christ also suffered, and that for you slaves, on your behalf. “Christ himself,” says Bengel, “was treated as a slave; he deigns to exhibit his own conduct as an example to slaves.” Leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps. The oldest manuscripts have the second person here in both places.
Leaving (ὑολιμπάνων), leaving behind; Bengel says, “in abitu ad pattern.” The Greek for “example” is ὑπογραμμός—a word which occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It means a copy set by a writing or drawing master, which was to be exactly reproduced by his pupils (see 2 Macc. 2:28, in the Greek). The life of Christ is our model. In particular St. Peter urges us to imitate the Lord’s patience in suffering undeserved afflictions. In the last clause the figure is changed to that of a guide along a difficult route, so difficult that those who follow must put their feet in his footprints. We should follow his steps, one by one, closely following him, as the word ἐπακολουθήσητε means.
1 Peter 2:21
For even hereunto were ye called – Such a spirit is required by the very nature of your Christian vocation; you were called into the church in order that you might evince it. See the notes at 1Th_3:3.
Because Christ also suffered for us – Margin, “some read, for you.” The latest editions of the Greek Testament adopt the reading “for you.” The sense, however, is not essentially varied. The object is, to hold up the example of Christ to those who were called to suffer, and to say to them that they should bear their trials in the same spirit that he evinced in his. See the notes at Phi_3:10.
Leaving us an example – The apostle does not say that this was the only object for which Christ suffered, but that it was an object, and an important one. The word rendered “example” (ὑπογραμμὸν hupogrammon) occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It means properly “a writing copy,” such as is set for children; or an outline or sketch for a painter to fill up; and then, in general, an example, a pattern for imitation.
That ye should follow his steps – That we should follow him, as if we trod exactly along behind him, and should place our feet precisely where his were. The meaning is, that there should be the closest imitation or resemblance. The things in which we are to imitate him are specified in the following verses.
1 Peter 2:22
22Who did no sin This belongs to the present subject; for, if any one boasts of his own innocence, he must know that Christ did not suffer as a malefactor. He, at the same time, shews how far we come short of what Christ was, when he says, that there was no guile found in his mouth; for he who offends not by his tongue, says James, is a perfect man. (Jas_3:2.) He then declares that there was in Christ the highest perfection of innocency, such as no one of us can dare claim for himself. It hence appears more fully how unjustly he suffered beyond all others. There is, therefore, no reason why any one of us should refuse to suffer after his example, since no one is so conscious of having acted rightly, as not to know that he is imperfect.
Cambridge Bible 1Pet Plumptre
22. Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth] It is suggestive as indicating the line of prophetic interpretation in which the Apostle had been led on, that as soon as he begins to speak of the sufferings of Christ, he falls, as it were, naturally into the language of Isa_53:9, as he found it (with the one exception that he gives “sin” for “iniquity”) in the LXX. version. The two clauses assert for the righteous sufferer a perfect sinlessness both in act and word.
Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth. St. Peter is quoting the Septuagint Version of Isa_53:9, almost exactly, the word ἁμαρτίαν, sin, being substituted for ἀνομίαν, lawlessness (“violence” in our version). We should notice that the Messiah, whose example is here set before Christian slaves, is called by the prophet “the Servant of Jehovah” (Isaiah lit. 13). Slaves were often tempted to deceit and guile; they must look to the Lord Jesus, and strive to copy his innocence and his truth. The verb εὑρίσκεσθαι, to be found, is sometimes said to be used, by a Hebraism, for the simple verb “to be.” Winer says, “Between these two verbs, however, there is always this distinction, that, whilst εἶναι, indicates the quality of a thing in itself, εὑρίσκεσθαι indicates the quality in so far as it is discovered, detected, recognized, in the subject” (‘Greek Grammar,’ Isa_65:8).
1 Peter 2:22
Who did no sin – Who was in all respects perfectly holy. There is an allusion here to Isa_53:9; and the sense is, that he was entirely innocent, and that he suffered without having committed any crime. In this connection the meaning is, that we are to be careful that, if we suffer, it should be without committing any crime. We should so live, as the Saviour did, as not to deserve to be punished, and thus only shall we entirely follow his example. It is as much our duty to live so as not to deserve the reproaches of others, as it is to bear them with patience when we are called to suffer them. The first thing in regard to hard treatment from others, is so to live that there shall be no just occasion for it; the next is, if reproaches come upon us when we have not deserved them, to bear them as the Saviour did. If he suffered unjustly, we should esteem it to be no strange thing that we should; if he bore the injuries done him with meekness, we should learn that it is possible for us to do it also; and should learn also that we have not the spirit of his religion unless we actually do it. On the expression used here, compare the Isa_53:9 note; Heb_7:26 note.
Neither was guile found in his mouth – There was no deceit, hypocrisy, or insincerity. He was in all respects what he professed to be, and he imposed on no one by any false and unfounded claim. All this has reference to the time when the Saviour was put to death; and the sense is, that though he was condemned as an impostor, yet that the charge was wholly unfounded. As in his whole life before he was perfectly sincere, so he was eminently on that solemn occasion.
1 Peter 2:23
23When he was reviled, or, reproached. Here Peter points out what we are to imitate in Christ, even calmly to bear wrongs, and not to avenge wrongs. For such is our disposition, that when we receive injuries, our minds immediately boil over with revengeful feelings; but Christ abstained from every kind of retaliation. Our minds, therefore, ought to be bridled, lest we should seek to render evil for evil.
But committed himself, or, his cause. The word cause is not expressed, but it is obviously understood. And Peter adds this for the consolation of the godly, that is, that if they patiently endured the reproaches and violence of the wicked, they would have God as their defender. For it would be a very hard thing for us, to be subjected to the will of the ungodly, and not to have God caring for our wrongs. Peter, therefore, adorns God with this high attribute, that he judgeth righteously, as though he had said, “It behoves us calmly to bear evils; God in the meantime will not neglect what belongs to him, but will shew himself to be a righteous judge.” However wanton then the ungodly may be for a time, yet they shall not be unpunished for the wrongs done now to the children of God. Nor is there any cause for the godly to fear, as though they were without any protection; for since it belongs to God to defend them and to undertake their cause, they are to possess their souls in patience.
Moreover, as this doctrine brings no small consolation, so it avails to allay and subdue the inclinations of the flesh. For no one can recumb on the fidelity and protection of God, but he who in a meek spirit waits for his judgment; for he who leaps to take vengeance, intrudes into what belongs to God, and suffers not God to perform his own office. In reference to this Paul says, “Give place to wrath,” (Rom_12:19;) and thus he intimates that the way is closed up against God that he might not himself judge, when we anticipate him. He then confirms what he had said by the testimony of Moses, “Vengeance is mine.” (Deu_32:35.) Peter in short meant this, that we after the example of Christ shall be more prepared to endure injuries, if we give to God his own honor, that is, if we, believing him to be a righteous judge, refer our right and our cause to him.
It may however be asked, How did Christ commit his cause to the Father; for if he required vengeance from him, this he himself says is not lawful for us; for he bids us to do good to those who injure us, to pray for those who speak evil of us. (Mat_5:44.) To this my reply is, that it appears evident from the gospel-history, that Christ did thus refer his judgment to God, and yet did not demand vengeance to be taken on his enemies, but that, on the contrary, he prayed for them, “Father,” he said, “forgive them.” (Luk_23:34.) And doubtless the feelings of our flesh are far from being in unison with the judgment of God. That any one then may commit his cause to him who judgeth righteously, it is necessary that he should first lay a check on himself, so that he may not ask anything inconsistent with the righteous judgment of God. For they who indulge themselves in looking for vengeance, concede not to God his office of a judge, but in a manner wish him to be an executioner. He then who is so calm in his spirit as to wish his adversaries to become his friends, and endeavors to bring them to the right way, rightly commits to God his own cause, and his prayer is, “Thou, O Lord, knowest my heart, how I wish them to be saved who seek to destroy me: were they converted, I should congratulate them; but if they continue obstinate in their wickedness, for I know that thou watchest over my safety, I commit my cause to thee.” This meekness was manifested by Christ; it is then the rule to be observed by us.
Cambridge Bible 1 Pet Plumptre
23. Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again] Here again, though we have no direct quotation, it is impossible to overlook the allusive reference to the silence of the sufferer as portrayed in Isa_53:7. Personal recollection was, however, the main source of the vivid picture which the Apostle draws, dwelling mainly on those features which the life of the slaves best enabled them to reproduce. They were tempted to return “railing for railing” (chap. 3:9). Christ had met taunts and revilings with a silent patience. They in their passionate indignation too often threatened revenge in some near or distant future. He, though he might have asked His Father for twelve legions of angels, had uttered no threats of judgment, but had committed Himself (as in the words on the Cross, “Father, into Thy hands I commend my spirit,” Luk_23:46) to the righteous Judge. So should the slaves who suffered wrongfully commit their cause to God in the full assurance that they will one day have righteous judgment. The strange rendering in the Vulgate, “tradebat judicanti se injuste” as though the words referred not to God, but to Pilate, for which there is no Greek MS. authority, must be regarded as an arbitrary alteration made on the assumption that this was the crowning act of submissive patience.
Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not (comp. Isa_53:7). The Lord again and again denounced the hypocrisy and unbelief of the Pharisees; he bade Caiaphas remember the coming judgment. But that was the language of prophetic warning, the sternness of love. He sets before them the impending punishment, that they may take heed in time and escape from the wrath to come. In the midst of his strongest invective against the sins and hollow unreality of Pharisaism there is an outburst of the deepest love, the tenderest concern (Mat_23:27). But committed himself to him that judgeth righteously. The verb “committed” παρεδίδου) is without an object in the original.
Most commentators supply “himself,” or “his cause;” others, “his sufferings;” some, as Alford, “those who inflicted them.” Perhaps the last explanation is the best: he left them to God, to God’s mercy, if it might be; to his judgment, if it must be. There may be a reference to his prayer, “Father, forgive them.” Compare by contrast the language of Jeremiah, speaking in the spirit of the Old Testament (Jer_11:20 and Jer_20:12). There is a curious reading, entirely without the authority of existing Greek manuscripts, represented by the Vulgate, Tradebat judicanti se injuste, as if the words were understood of the Lord’s submitting himself “to one who judged unrighteously,” that is, to Pilate.
1 Peter 2:23
Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again – He did not use harsh and opprobrious words in return for those which he received:
(1) He was reviled. He was accused of being a seditious man; spoken of as a deceiver; charged with being in league with Beelzebub, the “prince of the devils” and condemned as a blasphemer against God. This was done:
(a) By the great and the influential of the land;
(b) In the most public manner;
(c) With a design to alienate his friends from him;
(d) With most cutting and severe sarcasm and irony; and,
(e) In reference to everything that would most affect a man of delicate and tender sensibility.
(2) He did not revile those who had reproached him. He asked that justice might be done. He demanded that if he had spoken evil, they should bear witness of the evil; but beyond that he did not go. He used no harsh language. He showed no anger. He called for no revenge. He prayed that they might robe forgiven. He calmly stood and bore it all, for he came to endure all kinds of suffering in order that he might set us an example, and make an atonement for our sins.
When he suffered, he threatened not – That is, when he suffered injustice from others, in his trial and in his death, he did not threaten punishment. He did not call down the wrath of heaven. He did not even predict that they would be punished; he expressed no wish that they should be.
But committed himself to him that judgeth righteously – Margin, his cause. The sense is much the same. The meaning is, that he committed his cause, his name, his interests, the whole case, to God. The meaning of the phrase “that judgeth righteously” here is, that God would do him exact justice. Though wronged by people, he felt assured that he would do right. He would rescue his name from these reproaches; he would give him the honor in the world which he deserved; and he would bring upon those who had wronged him all that was necessary in order to show his disapprobation of what they had done, and all that would be necessary to give the highest support to the cause of virtue. Compare Luk_23:46.
This is the example which is set before us when we are wronged. The whole example embraces these points:
(1) We should see to it that we ourselves are guiltless in the matter for which we are reproached or accused. Before we fancy that we are suffering as Christ did, we should be sure that our lives are such as not to deserve reproach. We cannot indeed hope to be as pure in all things as he was; but we may so live that if we are reproached and reviled we may be certain that it is not for any wrong that we have done to others, or that we do not deserve it from our fellow-men.
(2) When we are reproached and reviled, we should feel that we were called to this by our profession; that it was one of the things which we were taught to expect when we became Christians; that it is what the prophets and apostles endured, and what the Master himself suffered in an eminent degree; and that if we meet with the scorn of the great, the frivilous, the rich, the powerful, it is no more than the Saviour did, and no more than we have been taught to expect will be our portion. It may be well, too, to remember our unworthiness; and to reflect, that though we have done no wrong to the individual who reviles us yet that we are sinners, and that such reproaches may not be a useless admonisher of our being guilty before God. So David felt when reproached by Shimei: “So let him curse, because the Lord hath said unto him, Curse David. Who shall then say, Wherefore hast thou done so?” 2Sa_16:10.
(3) When this occurs, we should calmly and confidently commit our cause to God. Our name, our character, our influence, our reputation, while living and after we are dead, we should leave entirely with him. We should not seek nor desire revenge. We should not call down the wrath of God on our persecutors and slanderers. We should calmly feel that God will give us the measure of reputation which we ought to have in the world, and that he will suffer no ultimate injustice to be done us. “Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him, and he shall bring it to pass; and he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noon-day,” Psa_37:5-6. The Latin Vulgate has here, “But he committed himself to him who judged him unjustly,” judicanti se injuste; that is, to Pontius Pilate, meaning that he left himself in his hands, though he knew that the sentence was unjust. But there is no authority for this in the Greek, and this is one of the instances in which that version departs from the original.
1 Peter 2:24
Had he commended nothing in Christ’s death except as an example, it would have been very frigid: he therefore refers to a fruit much more excellent. There are then three things to be noticed in this passage. The first is, that Christ by his death has given us an example of patience; the second, that by his death he restored us to life; it hence follows, that we are so bound to him, that we ought cheerfully to follow his example. In the third place, he refers to the general design of his death, that we, being dead to sins, ought to live to righteousness. And all these things confirm his previous exhortation.
24Who his own self bare our sins This form of speaking is fitted to set forth the efficacy of Christ’s death. For as under the Law, the sinner, that he might be released from guilt, substituted a victim in his own place; so Christ took on himself the curse due to our sins, that he might atone for them before God. And he expressly adds, on the tree, because he could not offer such an expiation except on the cross. Peter, therefore, well expresses the truth, that Christ’s death was a sacrifice for the expiation of our sins; for being fixed to the cross and offering himself a victim for us, he took on himself our sin and our punishment. Isaiah, from whom Peter has taken the substance of his doctrine, employs various forms of expression, — that he was smitten by God’s hand for our sins, that he was wounded for our iniquities, that he was afflicted and broken for our sake, that the chastisement of our peace was laid on him. But Peter intended to set forth the same thing by the words of this verse, even that we are reconciled to God on this condition, because Christ made himself before his tribunal a surety and as one guilty for us, that he might suffer the punishment due to us.
This great benefit the Sophists in their schools obscure as much as they can; for they prattle that by the sacrifice of the death of Christ we are only freed after baptism from guilt, but that punishment is redeemed by satisfactions. But Peter, when he says that he bore our sins, means that not only guilt was imputed to him, but that he also suffered its punishment, that he might thus be an expiatory victim, according to that saying of the Prophet, “The chastisement of our peace was upon him.” If they object and say, that this only avails before baptism, the context here disproves them, for the words are addressed to the faithful.
But this clause and that which follows, by whose stripes ye were healed, may be also applied to the subject in hand, that is, that it behoves us to bear on our shoulders the sins of others, not indeed to expiate for them, but only to bear them as a burden laid on us.
Being dead to sins He had before pointed out another end, even an example of patience; but here, as it has been stated, it is made more manifest, that we are to live a holy and righteous life. The Scripture sometimes mentions both, that is, that the Lord tries us with troubles and adversities, that we might be conformed to the death of Christ, and also that the old man has been crucified in the death of Christ, that we might walk in newness of life. (Phi_3:10; Rom_6:4.) At the same time, this end of which he speaks, differs from the former, not only as that which is general from what is particular; for in patience there is simply an example; but when he says that Christ suffered, that we being dead to sins should live to righteousness, he intimates that there is power in Christ’s death to mortify our flesh, as Paul explains more fully in Rom_6:6. For he has not only brought this great benefit to us, that God justifies us freely, by not imputing to us our sins; but he also makes us to die to the world and to the flesh, that we may rise again to a new life: not that one day makes complete this death; but wherever it is, the death of Christ is efficacious for the expiation of sins, and also for the mortification of the flesh.
Cambridge Bible 1 Pet Plumptre
24. who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree] Here again we have an unmistakeable reference to the language of Isa_53:12. The Apostle, though he has begun with pointing to the sufferings of Christ as an example, cannot rest satisfied with speaking of them only under that aspect. He remembers that his Lord had spoken of Himself as giving His life a ransom for many (Mat_20:28), of His blood as that of a new covenant (Mat_26:28). He must speak accordingly, even to the slaves whom he calls upon to follow in the footsteps of their Master, of the atoning, mediatorial, sacrificial aspects of His death. Each word is full of a profound significance. The Greek verb for “bare” (anapherein) is always used with a liturgical sacrificial meaning, sometimes, in a directly transitive sense, of him who offers a sacrifice, as Jam_2:21 (“Abraham … when he had offered Isaac”), Heb_7:27, Heb_13:15, and in this very chapter (verse 5); sometimes of the victim offered, as bearing the sins of those who have transgressed, and for whom a sacrifice is required, as in Heb_9:28 and the LXX. of Isa_53:12. Here, Christ being at once the Priest and the Victim, one meaning seems to melt into the other. He offers Himself: He bears the sins of many. But if there was a priest and a sacrifice, where was the altar? The Apostle finds that altar in the cross, just as many of the best commentators, including even Roman theologians like Estius and Aquinas, recognise a reference to the cross in the “we have an altar” of Heb_13:10. In the word for “tree,” used instead of that for “cross,” we have the same term as that in Gal_3:13, where St Paul’s choice of it was obviously determined by its use in the LXX. of Deu_21:23. The word was somewhat more generic than “cross,” and included a whole class of punishments to which slaves were subject, impaling, the stocks (Act_16:24), and the like. It is possible that St Peter, in writing to slaves, may have chosen it as bringing home to their thoughts the parallelism between Christ’s sufferings and their own (comp. the “non pasces in cruce corvos” of Horace Epp. 1:16, 50:48); but its occurrence in St Luke’s reports of his speeches in Act_5:30, Act_10:39 makes it more probable that it was simply a familiar term with him.
that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness] The Greek word for “being dead” is a somewhat unusual one, and is not found elsewhere in the New Testament. As a word it has to a certain extent an euphemistic character, like “departing,” “being away,” and is so far analogous to the exodos or “decease” of 2Pe_1:15. The context leaves no doubt that the English rendering of the word fairly expresses its true meaning. “Having died” would perhaps give more accurately the force of the aorist participle. The thought presents another instance of parallelism between St Peter and St Paul (Rom_6:2, Rom_6:11; Gal_2:19) so close that it at least suggests the idea of derivation. In both cases the tense used implies a single act at a definite point of time, and as interpreted by St Paul’s teaching, and, we may add, by that of St Peter himself (chap. 3:21), that point of time can hardly be referred to any other occasion than that of the Baptism of those to whom he writes. In that rite they were mystically sharers in the death and entombment of Christ, and they were made so in order that they might live to Him in the righteousness of a new life.
by whose stripes ye were healed] The word for “stripes” means strictly the livid mark or wheal left on the flesh by the scourge. Comp. Sir_28:17. We may well believe that the specific term was chosen rather than any more general word like “sufferings” or “passion,” as bringing before the minds of the slave readers of the Epistle the feature of greatest ignominy in their Lord’s sufferings (Mat_27:26; Mar_15:15), that in which they might find the closest parallelism with their own. When the scourge so freely used in Roman households left the quivering flesh red and raw, they were to remember that Christ also had so suffered, and that the stripes inflicted on Him were part of the process by which He was enabled to be the Healer of mankind. The words are cited from the LXX. of Isa_53:5.
Who his own self, bare our sins in his own body on the tree. St. Peter has thus far spoken of our Lord as our Example of patient endurance; but he seems to feel that, although this is the aspect of the Savior’s sufferings most suitable to his present purpose, yet it is scarcely seemly to dwell upon that most momentous of all events, the death of Christ our Lord upon the cross, without mentioning its more solemn and awful import. A martyr may be an example of patient suffering; he cannot bear our sins. The apostle proceeds to unfold the contents of the ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν in 1Pe_2:21. The Lord died for us: but what is the meaning of the preposition? Was it that his example might stimulate us to imitate his patience and his holy courage? This is a true view, but, taken alone, it would be utterly inadequate. The death of the Son of God had a far deeper significance. The ὑπέρ used here and elsewhere is explained by the more precise ἀντί of Mat_20:28; Mar_10:45; 1Ti_2:6, in which last passage both propositions are combined. The Lord died, not only in our behalf, but in our stead. He gave “his life a ransom for many;” “he is the Propitiation for our sins.” St. Peter exhibits here, with all possible emphasis, this vicarious aspect of the Savior’s death. “He bore our sins himself.” The pronoun is strongly emphatic; he bore them, though they were not his own. They were our sins, but he bore them—he alone; none other could bear that awful burden. He bare (ἀνήνεγκεν). The apostle is evidently quoting Isa_53:12, where the Hebrew verb is אשָׂןָ, and the Septuagint Version is Καὶ αὐτὸς ἁμαρτίας πολλῶν ἀνήνεγκε; comp. Isa_53:4 and Isa_53:11 (in Isa_53:11 there is another Hebrew verb) of the same chapter. In the Old Testament “to bear sins” or “iniquity” means to suffer the punishment of sin, whether one’s own sin or the sin of others (see Le Isa_5:1, Isa_5:17, and many similar passages). In the description of the ceremonial of the Day of Atonement in Lev_16:1-34. it is said (Lev_16:22) that the scapegoat “shall bear upon him [the Hebrew is וילָעָ ריעִשָׂהַ אשָׂןָ; the Greek is λήψεται ὁ χίμαρος ἐφ ̓ ἑαυτῷ] all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited,” where the scapegoat is represented as bearing the sins of the people and taking them away. Compare also the great saying of the Baptist, “Behold the Lamb of God. which taketh away the sin of the world!” where the Greek (ὁ αἴρων) may be rendered with equal exactness, “who beareth,” or “who taketh away.” The Lord took our sins away by taking them upon himself (comp. Mat_8:17). As Aaron put the sins of the people upon the head of the scapegoat (Le Lev_16:21), and the goat was to bear them upon him unto a land not inhabited, so the Lord laid on the blessed Savior the iniquity of us all, and he bare our sins in his own body on to the tree, and, there dying in our stead, took them away. He bare them on himself, as the scapegoat bare upon him the iniquities of Israel. It was this burden of sin which made his sacred body sweat great drops of blood in his awful agony. He bare them on to the tree (ἐπὶ τὸ ξύλον); he carried them thither, and there he expiated them (comp. Heb_9:28, “Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many,” where the same Greek word is used—ἀνενεγκεῖν). Another interpretation takes ἀναφέρειν in its sacrificial sense, as in Heb_7:27, and regards the cross as the altar: “He bore our sins on to the altar of the cross.” The Lord is both Priest and Victim, and the verb is used in the sacred writings both of the priest who offers the sacrifice and of the sacrifice which bears or takes away sin. But the sacrifice which the Lord offered up was himself, not our sins; therefore it seems best to understand ἀναφέρειν here rather of victim than of priest, as in Heb_9:28 and the Greek Version of Isa_53:12. The thought of sacrifice was doubtless present to the apostle’s mind, as it certainly was to the prophet’s (see Isa_53:10 of Isa_53:1-12.). The word ξύλον is used for the cross twice in St. Peter’s speeches in the Acts of the Apostles (Act_5:30; Act_10:39). It is also so used by St. Paul (Gal_3:13). That we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness. The Greek word ἀπογενόμενοι occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. Bengel understands it differently. He says that as γενέσθαι τινός means “to become the slave of some one,” so ἀπογενέσθαι may mean to cease to be a slave. But this would require the genitive, not the dative, ταῖς ἁμαρτίαις; and the ordinary translation is more suitable to the following context. The word is several times used in Herodotus in the sense of “having died;” more literally, “having ceased to be.” The tense (aorist) seems to point to a definite time, as the time of baptism (comp. Rom_6:2, Rom_6:11; Gal_2:19, Gal_2:20).
Righteousness here is simply the opposite of sin—obedience, submission to the will of God. Bengel says, “Justitia tota una est; peccatum multiplex.” By whose stripes ye were healed. The apostle is quoting the Septuagint rendering of Isa_53:5. The Greek μώλωψ means the mark or weal left on the flesh by a scourge (comp. Ecclesiasticus 28:17, Πληγὴ μάστιγος ποιεῖ μώλωπας). The slaves, whom the apostle is addressing, might perhaps not infrequently be subjected to the scourge; he bids them remember the more dreadful flagellation which the Lord endured. They were to learn patience of him, and to remember to their comfort that those stripes which he, the holy Son of God, condescended to suffer are to them that believe healing and salvation. Faith in the crucified Savior lifts the Christian out of the sickness of sin into the health of righteousness.
1 Peter 2:24
Who his own self – See the notes at Heb_1:3, on the phrase “when he had by himself purged our sins.” The meaning is, that he did it in his own proper person; he did not make expiation by offering a bloody victim, but was himself the sacrifice.
Bare our sins – There is an allusion here undoubtedly to Isa_53:4, Isa_53:12. See the meaning of the phrase “to bear sins” fully considered in the notes at those places. As this cannot mean that Christ so took upon himself the sins of people as to become himself a sinner, it must mean that he put himself in the place of sinners, and bore that which those sins deserved; that is, that he endured in his own person that which, if it had been inflicted on the sinner himself, would have been a proper expression of the divine displeasure against sin, or would have been a proper punishment for sin. See the notes at 2Co_5:21. He was treated as if he had been a sinner, in order that we might be treated as if we had not sinned; that is, as if we were righteous. There is no other way in which we can conceive that one bears the sins of another. They cannot be literally transferred to another; and all that can be meant is, that he should take the consequences on himself, and suffer as if he had committed the transgressions himself.
(See also the supplementary notes at 2Co_5:21; Rom. 4; 5; and Gal_3:13, in which the subject of imputation is discussed at large)
In his own body – This alludes undoubtedly to his sufferings. The sufferings which he endured on the cross were such as if he had been guilty; that is, he was treated as he would have been if he had been a sinner. He was treated as a criminal; crucified as those most guilty were; endured the same kind of physical pain that the guilty do who are punished for their own sins; and passed through mental sorrows strongly resembling – as much so as the case admitted of – what the guilty themselves experience when they are left to distressing anguish of mind, and are abandoned by God. The sufferings of the Saviour were in all respects made as nearly like the sufferings of the most guilty, as the sufferings of a perfectly innocent being could be.
On the tree – Margin, “to the tree” Greek, ἐπὶ τὸ ξύλον epi to xulon. The meaning is rather, as in the text, that while himself on the cross, he bore the sorrows which our sins deserved. It does not mean that he conveyed our sorrows there, but that while there he suffered under the intolerable burden, and was by that burden crushed in death. The phrase “on the tree,” literally “on the wood,” means the cross. The same Greek word is used in Act_5:30; Act_10:39; Act_13:29; Gal_3:13, as applicable to the cross, in all of which places it is rendered “tree.”
That we, being dead to sins – In virtue of his having thus been suspended on a cross; that is, his being put to death as an atoning sacrifice was the means by which we become dead to sin, and live to God. The phrase “being dead to sins” is, in the original, ταῖς ἁμαρτίαις ἀπογενόμενοι tais hamartiais apogenomenoi – literally, “to be absent from sins.” The Greek word was probably used (by an euphemism) to denote to die, that is, to be absent from the world. This is a milder and less repulsive word than to say to die. It is not elsewhere used in the New Testament. The meaning is, that we being effectually separated from sin – that is, being so that it no longer influences us – should live unto God. We are to be, in regard to sin, as if we were dead; and it is to have no more influence over us than if we were in our graves. See the notes at Rom_6:2-7. The means by which this is brought about is the death of Christ (See the notes at Rom_6:8) for as he died literally on the cross on account of our sins, the effect has been to lead us to see the evil of transgression, and to lead new, and holy lives.
Should live unto righteousness – Though dead in respect to sin, yet we have real life in another respect. We are made alive unto God to righteousness, to true holiness. See the Rom_6:11 note; Gal_2:20 note.
By whose stripes – This is taken from Isa_53:5. See it explained in the notes on that verse. The word rendered “stripes” (μώλωπι mōlōpi) means, properly, the livid and swollen mark of a blow; the mark designated by us when we use the expression “black and blue.” It is not properly a bloody wound, but that made by pinching, beating, scourging. The idea seems to be that the Saviour was scourged or whipped; and that the effect on us is the same in producing spiritual healing, or in recovering us from our faults, as if we had been scourged ourselves. By faith we see the bruises inflicted on him, the black and blue spots made by beating; we remember that they were on account of our sins, and not for his; and the effect in reclaiming us is the same as if they had been inflicted on us.
Ye were healed – Sin is often spoken of as a disease, and redemption from it as a restoration from a deadly malady. See this explained in the notes at Isa_53:5.
1 Peter 2:25
25For ye were as sheep This also has Peter borrowed from Isaiah, except that the Prophet makes it a universal statement, “All we like sheep have gone astray.” (Isa_53:6.)
But on the word sheep there is no particular stress; he indeed compares us to sheep, but the emphasis is on what the Prophet adds, when he says that every one had turned to his own way. The meaning then is, that we are all going astray from the way of salvation, and proceeding in the way of ruin, until Christ brings us back from this wandering.
And this appears still more evident from the clause which follows, but are now returned to the Shepherd, etc.; for all who are not ruled by Christ, are wandering like lost sheep in the ways of error. Thus, then, is condemned the whole wisdom of the world, which does not submit to the government of Christ. But the two titles given here to Christ are remarkable, that he is the Shepherd and Bishop of souls There is then no cause to fear, but that he will faithfully watch over the safety of those who are in his fold and under his care. And it is his office to keep us safe both in body and soul; yet Peter mentions only souls, because this celestial Shepherd keeps us under his own spiritual protection unto eternal life.
Cambridge Bible 1 Pet Plumptre
25. For ye were as sheep going astray] The sequence of thought is suggested by the “all we like sheep have gone astray” of Isa_53:6, but the imagery could scarcely fail to recall to the mind of the Apostle the state of Israel “as sheep that had no shepherd” (Mat_9:36), and the parable of the lost sheep (Mat_18:12, Mat_18:13; Luk_15:4). The image had been a familiar one almost from the earliest times to describe the state of a people plunged into anarchy and confusion by the loss of their true leader (Num_27:17; 1Ki_22:17).
but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls] We can scarcely fail to connect the words with those which St Peter had once heard as to the “other sheep” who were not of the “fold” of Galilee and Jerusalem (Joh_10:16). In the “strangers of the dispersion” he might well recognise some, at least, of those other sheep. In the thought of Christ as the “Shepherd” we have primarily the echo of the teaching of our Lord just referred to, but the name at least suggests a possible reference to the older utterances of prophecy and devotion in Psa_23:1, Isa_40:11, Eze_34:23, Eze_37:24. In the word for “Bishop” (Episcopos) (better perhaps, looking to the later associations that have gathered round the English term) guardian or protector, we may, possibly, find a reference to the use of the cognate verb in the LXX. of Eze_34:11. It deserves to be noted, however, that the Greek noun is often used in the New Testament in special association with the thought of the Shepherd’s work. Comp. Act_20:28, 1Pe_5:4. So in like manner, “Pastors” or “Shepherds” find their place in the classification of Christian Ministers in Eph_4:11. There is, perhaps, a special stress laid on Christ being the Shepherd of their souls. Their bodies might be subject to the power and caprices of their masters, but their higher nature, that which was their true self, was subject only to the lovin
For ye were as sheep going astray; rather, with the best manuscripts, for ye were going astray like sheep. The apostle is probably still thinking of the great prophecy of Isaiah, and here almost reproduces the words of the sixth verse, “All we like sheep have gone astray.” He who had been thrice charged to feed the sheep and the lambs of Christ would think also of the parable of the lost sheep, and of the people of Israel who were “as sheep having no shepherd” (Mat_9:36). But are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls; literally, but ye returned (the verb is aorist); that is, at the time of their conversion. The aorist passive, ἐπεστράφην, is so frequently used in a middle sense that the translation, “ye were converted,” cannot be insisted on. Christ is the Shepherd of our souls. The quotation from Isaiah doubtless brought before St. Peter’s thoughts the sweet and holy allegory of the good Shepherd, which he had heard from the Savior’s lips (comp. also Isa_40:11; Eze_34:23; Eze_37:24; also Psa_22:1-31.). The word “bishop” (ἐπίσκοπος) is used in a similar connection in Act_20:28, “Take heed … to all the flock over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers (ἐπισκόπους);” comp. also Eze_34:11, “I will both search my sheep, and seek them out,” where the Greek word for “seek them out” is ἐπισκέψομαι. The Lord Jesus Christ is the chief Shepherd (1Pe_5:4). He is also the chief Bishop or Overseer of those souls which he has bought to be his own with his most precious blood.
1 Peter 2:25
For ye were as sheep going astray – Here also is an allusion to Isa_53:6, “All we like sheep have gone astray.” See the notes at that verse. The figure is plain. We were like a flock without a shepherd. We had wandered far away from the true fold, and were following our own paths. We were without a protector, and were exposed to every kind of danger. This aptly and forcibly expresses the condition of the whole race before God recovers people by the plan of salvation. A flock thus wandering without a shepherd, conductor, or guide, is in a most pitiable condition; and so was man in his wanderings before he was sought out and brought back to the true fold by the Great Shepherd.
But are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls – To Christ, who thus came to seek and save those who were lost. He is often called a Shepherd. See the notes at John 10:1-16. The word rendered “bishop,” (ἐπίσκοπος episkopos,) means “overseer.” It may be applied to one who inspects or oversees anything, as public works, or the execution of treaties; to anyone who is an inspector of wares offered for sale; or, in general, to anyone who is a superintendent. It is applied in the New Testament to those who are appointed to watch over the interests of the church, and especially to the officers of the church. Here it is applied to the Lord Jesus as the great Guardian and Superintendent of his church; and the title of universal Bishop belongs to him alone!