I Peter 2



1 “Wherefore laying aside” - Those who would wear the white robe of

regeneration must lay aside the filthy garments (Zechariah 3:3) of the old

carnal life. So Paul bids us put off the old man and put on the new (Ephesians

4:22, 24; Colossians 3:8,10; compare also Romans 13:14, “Put ye on the Lord

Jesus Christ.” The metaphor would be more striking when, at baptism, the old

dress was laid aside, and the white chrisom was put on. Paul connects the putting

on of Christ with baptism in Galatians 3:27, and Peter, when speaking of baptism in

ch. 3:21, uses the substantive (ἀπόθεσιςapothesisputting away; putting off)

corresponding to the word here rendered (ἀποθέμενοιapothemenoi - laying

aside) - “all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, all evil

speakings,” - The sins mentioned here are all offences against that “unfeigned love

of the brethren” which formed the subject of Peter’s exhortation in the latter

part of ch. 1:22.  (compare Ephesians 4:22-31); the close resemblance between

the two passages proves Peter’s knowledge of the Epistle to the Ephesians.


2 “As newborn babes,” -  The words look back to ch.1:3,23. God begat them

again; they were new-born babes in Christ, they must remember their regeneration.

The rabbis used the same metaphor of their proselytes; but the apostle was

doubtless thinking of the Savior’s words (Matthew 18:3; Mark 10:14-15) –

“desire the  sincere milk of the word,” – Milk is a good standard of all food;

it contains all the constituents of food. So does the Word of God contain all

elements of spiritual nutrition.Desire, (ἐπιποθήσατεepipothaesatelong for

it eagerly), as babes long for milk, their proper food, the only food necessary for

them. It seems that in the adjective λογικόνlogikon - paraphrased in the

Authorized Version “of the Word,” rendered “spiritual” or “reasonable” in the

Revised Version) there must be a reference to (λόγος Θεοῦ - logos Theou

the Word of God ), mentioned in ch.1:23 as the instrument of regeneration, and

called by our Lord (Matthew 4:4, from Deuteronomy 8:3) the food of man (but the

Greek in Matthew is ῤῆμαword -  as in ch.1:25). The paraphrase of the

Authorized Version gives the general meaning; but the adjective means literally,

“reasonable” or “rational.” The apostle is not thinking of natural milk, but of that

nourishment which the Christian reason can regard as milk for the soul

SPIRITUAL FOOD, pure and simple and nourishing, capable of

supporting and strengthening those newborn babes who not long ago had

been begotten again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, through

the Word of God. The adjective occurs only in one other place of Holy

Scripture (possibly Peter may have read it there) — Romans 12:1,

τὴν λογικὴν λατερείαν ὑμῶνtaen logikaen latereian humon the

logical Divine service of you -  where it means the service of the

sanctified reason as opposed to the mechanical observance of formal rites.

Thus it seems nearly to correspond with the use of the word πνευματικός

pneumatikos -  spiritual -  by Peter in v. 5 of this chapter, and by Paul in

I Corinthians 10:3-4. Paul also speaks of milk as the proper food of babes in

Christ (Ibid. ch.3:2; compare also Hebrews 5:12), though the thought is somewhat

different; for Peter’s words do not convey any reproof for want of progress. This

spiritual milk is ἄδολονadolon - pure, unadulterated – translated sincere

above - (compare II Corinthians 2:17; 4:2) - “that ye may grow thereby:”-

literally, therein, in the use of it.  The whole Christian life on earth, then, is to be

a continuous growth. Here we are all but as infants at the best, and we only come

to maturity in another life. Salvation is the possession of “the measure of the stature

ofthe fullness of Christ.” It is not, as some caricature the Christian doctrine, a

mere escape from an outward hell, but is the attainment of the full height of

manhood made God-like. That is the goal set before the Christian — an

ever-progressive approximation to the unreachable God, an ever-increasing

appropriation of infinite perfection into his indefinitely expanding being.

And towards that endless growth and eternally increasing knowledge of

and likeness to the revealed God in Christ, we may be steadily advancing

here. If we will only use the amply adequate means provided for us, and let

our souls feed on the Word of God, we shall grow as certainly as the child

passes from infancy to boyhood and adolescence. But in order to feeding

on that Word there must be rigid self-restraint, and many a struggle with

lower appetites. Christian growth is no natural process. The painless,

unconscious, spontaneous growth of the infant at the breast, or of the corn

in the field, does not tell us all the facts. There are other symbols of

Christian progress. It is a pilgrimage often to be trodden with bleeding feet.

It is a building which does not “rise like an exhalation,” but tasks strength

and skill to lay its courses. It is a fight often desperate, always real, and in

which that Word of God which is milk for the growing babe, is the sword

for the warrior-hand. We have to fight that we may have room to grow;

and of our conflict and of our growth the instrument is the WORD OF GOD!


The Christian’s soul’s true food is the Word of God!  The truth as it is in Jesus

has no admixture of deleterious matters, is unspoiled by men’s errors, and

has in it all which the soul needs,  which cannot be said of any other “word.”


There is no bodily craving more vehement and tyrannous than that of hunger.

We all know how an infant cries for food. Such keenness of appetite ought to

mark every Christian. But the very fact that this hunger has to be enjoined is

a sad confession. Infants do not need to be told to seek the mother’s breast.

But , alas!  We have to acknowledge languid indifference and often positive

distaste  for the wholesome food which God gives. So this appetite has to be

cultivated. And that it may, other appetites have to be restrained and starved.

We are like children who eat sweetmeats, and so do not care for our meals. If we

gorge ourselves on the sugared delights of earth, or on the rank “leeks and garlic”

of Egypt, how can the manna but taste insipid to our palates! Therefore abstinence

from these, and a tight hand on our desires and passions, are essential if we are

to have any healthy hunger for wholesome food. Again, the appetite will in

this case secure its being satisfied. This hunger is unlike all other hunger, in

that IT WILL CERTAINLY BE FULFILLED!   So the apostle does not even

say drink, but he only says desire. For he knows that if there be the longing there

will be the fruition, as certainly as the air flows into expanded lungs, or the sunshine

into opened eyes. Other longings are often pain, and often vain. This is

blessed in itself, and blessed in its sure fulfillment. He who can say, “I long

for thy Word,” will always be able to say, “I did eat it, and it was the joy

and rejoicing of my heart” (Jeremiah 15:16).  Is this eager appetite for the Word

of God the characteristic of our Christianity? Does the neglect of Scripture, the

preference of almost any book to the Bible, which so many of us must

confess, look like it? Does the utter disuse of meditation by such

multitudes of professing Christians look like it? Can anybody suppose that

people who scarcely ever occupy their minds with Divine truth, except when

they languidly sit out a sermon, are thirsting for the pure milk of the Word?


Concerning growth - “that ye may grow thereby:” - Peter bids us “grow in grace”

(II Peter 3:18).  We do not bid a plant to grow; we watch its growth, we assist it.

But Holy Scripture bids the Christian grow; the commandment implies the

power.  Our Father doth not mock us with precepts which we cannot obey. And

growth in free agents implies effort.


Growth is a sure proof of life!  God requires “the building up of the body of

Christ, till we all attain unto the unity of the faith…..unto a full- grown

Man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ!”  (Ephesians

4:13-16)  The bud that does not become a flower is a failure.  So the Christian

that does not grow is a failure!


3 “If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.” - rather, if ye

tasted. If ye once tasted the good Word of God (Hebrews 6:4-5), if ye

tasted of the heavenly gift which comes through that Word (ch.1:23), long after

it that ye may grow 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 Psalm 34:8,

“Oh taste and see that the Lord is good!”  This makes it less probable that

Peter is intentionally playing, as some have thought, on the similarity of the words

χρηστός - chraestos -  gracious; kind - and Ξριστός ChristosChrist.    

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 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 John 6. THE LORD


 The epithet crhsto>v is not infrequently used of food (see Luke 5:39).

“Prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts” – (Malachi 3:10). 


The Word of God is the food of the soul!  The Psalmist says “How sweet

Are thy words to my taste!  Yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!”

(Psalm 119:103)


4 “To whom coming, as unto a living stone,” - Omit the words, “as

unto,” which are not in the Greek, and weaken the sense. The participle is

present; the Christian must be ever coming to Christ, not only once for all,

but always, every day. The “living Stone” is CHRIST; the “Lord” of

Psalm 34:8 is JEHOVAH.  Peter passes from the figure of milk to that

of a chief cornerstone. So Paul, in I Corinthians 3., after saying that he

had fed his Corinthian converts “with milk, and not with meat” (I Corinthians

3:2), passes first to the figure of laborers on the land, and then to that of builders

upon the one foundation WHICH IS JESUS CHRIST! (Ibid. vs. 8-11)

This, like so many other coincidences, indicates Peter’s knowledge of Paul’s

Epistles  (II Peter 3:15-16). Peter may have been thinking of his own name, the

name which Christ gave him when Andrew brought him to the Lord; though the

Greek word here is not πέτρα -  petraa mass of rock -  or πέτροςpetros -  

a detached stone or boulder that might be thrown or easily moved - but λίθος

lithosstone — not the solid native rock on which the temple is built, nor a piece

of rock, an unhewn stone, but a stone shaped and wrought, chosen for a chief

cornerstone. But the apostle does not mention himself; he omits all reference to his

own position in the spiritual building; he wishes to direct his readers only to Christ.

He is plainly referring to the Lord’s own words in Matthew 21:42, where Christ

applies to Himself the language of Psalm 118.  He described Himself as a

Stone; Peter adds the epithet (λίθον ζῶνταlithon zontaliving stone). The

figure of a stone is inadequate, all figures are inadequate, to represent heavenly

mysteries. This stone is not, like the stones of earth, an inert mass; it is living, full

of life; nay, it gives life, as well as strength and coherence, TO THE


IN HIMSELF  He is risen from the dead, and IS ALIVE FOR EVER

MORE! -   “disallowed indeed of men,” - Peter slightly varies the quotation, and

attributes to men in general the rejection ascribed in Psalm 118:22 and in the Gospel

to the “builders” (Matthew 21:42; Mark 12:10; Luke 20:17; Acts 4:11).  He

was despised and rejected of men” (Isaiah 53:3; Matthew 26:57-68).  In his

speech before the Sanhedrin (Acts 4:11), Peter had directly applied the prophecy

to the chief priests -“but chosen of God, and precious,” rather, as the Revised

Version, with God elect, precious, or perhaps better, honored; a reference to

Isaiah 28:16.  He was rejected of the builders, but chosen of God; despised

of men, but with God held in honor. The adjective is not the same as that

rendered “precious” in ch.1:19: τίμος -  timios –precious -  there marks


 ἔντιμοςentimonprecious - here, the honor with which God “hath

highly exalted him.”


 “To whom coming.” The original word implies, by the force of a compound,

A VERY CLOSE APPROACH!  We must be so near Him as to touch Him,

if His transforming power is to flow into our hearts. A hair’s breadth of

separation is enough to stop the passage of the electric current. The thinnest film

of distance between the soul and Christ is thick enough to be an impenetrable

 barrier. There must be a real living contact if His life is to pour into my veins.

And if we ask how this close approach is to be effected, our Lord’s own words are

the simplest answer, “He that cometh unto me shall never hunger, and he that

believeth on me shall never thirst.” We come in the act of faith. To trust Him is to

draw near to Him. Faith is the approach of the soul to Christ, and we touch

when, with the reliance of our whole nature, we grasp His cross, and Him

who died on it, as our only Foundation. But that act of faith must be

continuous, if we are to draw life from Him in an unbroken stream. The

form of expression in the Greek shows that the “coming” is not an act done

once for all, but ONE CONSTANTLY REPEATED!   The grace drawn from

Christ in a moment of active faith cannot be stored up for use in a time when faith

has fallen asleep. As soon as we cease to draw near to Him, the flow stops.

There must be a present faith for a present blessing. Let us, then, rely on no

past acts of devout emotion, but hourly renew our conscious faith, and

seek to nestle closer to His side, from whom all our life and all its hopes

and joys, with all its goodness and power, proceed. So shall there rise up

into us, from the living Root, the sap which shall produce in us flowers and

abiding fruit (John 15).  So shall there be one life in Him and in us!

(“that they may be one, even as we are one:  I in them, and thou in

me, that they be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that

thou hast sent me, and has loved them, as thou hast loved me.” – John



All hearers of the gospel and all sincere and faithful Christians have reason to

rejoice that their Savior Jesus is “ELECT AND PRECIOUS”.  If God the

Father sets such honor upon Christ, there is encouragement to believe that

Christ’s work shall not fail.  (“The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform

this!” – (Isaiah 9:7)


5 “Ye also, as lively stones,” - rather, living stones. The word is the same as

that used in v. 4. Christians are living stones in virtue of their union with the

one living Stone, Jesus Christ: “Because I live, ye shall live also.”  (John 14:19) –

“are built up a spiritual house,” - rather, be ye built up. The imperative

rendering seems more suitable than the indicative, and the passive than the

middle. The Christian comes; God builds him up on the one Foundation.

The apostle says,” Come to be built up; come that ye may be built up.” The

parallel passage in Jude 1:20, “But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on

your most holy faith,” might seem to point to a reflexive rendering here;

but the verb used by Jude is active, ἐποικοδομοῦντες epoikodomountes

building up.  Jude is apparently thinking of the human side of the work, Peter of

the Divine; in the deepest sense CHRIST IS THE BUILDER AS WELL AS

THE FOUNDATION, as He Himself said in words doubtless present to Peter’s

mind, “Upon this rock I will build my Church” (Matthew 16:18).  That Church

is the antitype of the ancient temple — a building not material, but spiritual,

consisting, not of dead stones, but of sanctified souls, resting on no earthly foundation,

but on THAT ROCK WHICH IS CHRIST!  (compare Ephesians 2:20-22;

I Corinthians 3:16-17; II Corinthians 6:16) - “an holy priesthood,” -  rather, for

(literally, into) a holy priesthood. The figure again changes; the thought of the temple

leads to that of the priesthood. The stones in the spiritual temple are living

stones; they are also priests. According to the original ideal of the Hebrew

theocracy, all Israelites were to be priests: “Ye shall be unto me a kingdom

of priests, a holy nation” (Exodus 19:6). This ideal is fulfilled in the Christian

Church; it is a holy priesthood. Here and in v. 9 the Church collectively is called

a priesthood; in the Book of the Revelation (1:6; 5:10; 20:6) Christians individually

are called priests, Bishop Lightfoot says, at the opening of his dissertation on the

Christian ministry, “The kingdom of Christ has no sacred days or seasons, no special

sanctuaries, because every time and every place alike are holy. Above all, it has no

sacerdotal system.  It interposes no sacrificial tribe or class between God and man.”

He continues, “This conception is strictly an ideal, which we must ever hold

before our eyes… but which nevertheless cannot supersede the necessary

wants of human society, and, if crudely and hastily applied, will lead only

to signal failure. As appointed days and set places are indispensable to her

efficiency, so also the Church could not fulfill the purposes for which she

exists without rulers and teachers, without a ministry of reconciliation, in

short, without an order of men who may in some sense be designated a

priesthood.” The whole Jewish Church was a kingdom of priests; yet there

was an Aaronic priesthood. The Christian Church is a holy priesthood; yet

there is an order of men who are appointed to exercise the functions of the

ministry, and who, as representing the collective priesthood of the whole

Church, may be truly called priests - “to offer up spiritual sacrifices,

acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” The priest must have somewhat to

offer (Hebrews 8:3). The sacrifices of the ancient Law had found their

fulfillment in the one all-sufficient Sacrifice, offered once for all by the

great High Priest upon the altar of the cross. But there is still sacrifice in

the Christian Church. That one Sacrifice is ever present in its atoning virtue

and cleansing power; and through that one Sacrifice the priests of the

spiritual temple offer up daily spiritual sacrifices — the sacrifice of prayer

and praise (Hebrews 13:15), the sacrifice of alms and oblations

(Ibid. v.16), and that sacrifice without which prayer and praise and alms are

vain oblations, the sacrifice of self (Romans 12:1). These spiritual sacrifices are

offered up through Jesus Christ the great High Priest (Ibid. v.15); they derive

their value only from faith in His sacrifice of Himself; they are efficacious


 through Him alone they are acceptable to God. They are offered through

Him, and they are acceptable through Him. The Greek words admit of either

connection; and perhaps are intended to cover both relations.


The chief sacrifice that we can offer is the sacrifice of ourselves. “My son, give

Me thy heart” (Proverbs 23:26), is the Lord’s requirement. If we give Him that,

we give Him all: it is a poor gift, worthless in itself, but yet precious in His sight

because He first loved us, made more precious still by the precious blood of

Christ which was shed that these hearts of ours might be cleansed and

purified for a holy offering. It is all He asks, and all we have to give; if we give

it, we shall be all the richer, for He giveth in return THE UNSPEAKABLE

GIFT!  the gift of Himself, to abide forever in the heart that is given

 to Him.  (It does not get any better than God’s promise to Abraham,  “Fear

not Abram:  I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.” – Genesis

15:1 – For God to be our Reward is overcoming – CY – 2012)  “We offer

and present unto thee, O Lord, ourselves, our souls and bodies, to be a

reasonable, holy, and lively sacrifice unto thee.” We offer these our

offerings through Jesus Christ, (Hebrews 13:15),  pleading His merits,

His atonement; and through Him they are acceptable unto God. In

themselves they are very mean and imperfect; not without blemish, defiled with

lingering taints of selfishness and earthliness; but if they are offered through Him,

in the faith of Him, they are acceptable. For the priests of the spiritual temple

are also living stones in that temple, incorporated into the mystical body of Christ,

and thus their spiritual sacrifices are consecrated by His one prevailing Sacrifice,

 and through that Sacrifice are acceptable unto God.


God is a Spirit; His temple in the highest sense must be a spiritual house!


We are to constitute in concert the “spiritual house,” which is the glory of the

“new dispensation;” the idea of which is in the MIND OF THE DIVINE

ARCHITECT and which is gradually being brought to realization and

perfection under His superintendence, and through the concurrence of those

who can only very partially comprehend the bearing of their life upon the

glorious whole which is in due time to be consummated. The whole edifice

is based by faith upon Christ; the several stones are cemented by mutual love.

(Ephesians 1:10)


                        Jesus Christ is the True Temple (v.5)


Christ is the true temple and we become a temple through Him!  The temple

is the dwelling-place of Deity. The need for it arises from man’s weakness, which


has to aid its conceptions by localizing God, and still more FROM MAN’S SIN,


WORLD and cannot bear the thought of God’s dwelling among the foulness

of everyday abodes. Christ is all which temples shadowed. The temple was

the dwelling-place of Deity, and in Him dwells all the fullness of the

Godhead bodily. (Colossians 2:9).  It was the place of meeting between God

and man, and in Him we draw near to the God who in Him has drawn

near to us (James 4:8).  It was the place of sacrifice, and in His flesh the one

propitiation has been offered for sin forever (Hebrews 9:26).  It was the

place of Divine manifestation, and in Him the whole glory of the Divine nature

has been flashed upon the world with a brightness (Hebrews 1:3) before which the

light that shone between the cherubim pales its fires. The burden of the context here

is that by coming to Christ we become partakers of His life, and are therefore

assimilated to Him. So the whole aggregate of the scattered strangers to whom

Peter writes, and all the solitary souls who, one by one, draw near to Jesus,

 are built up into ONE GREAT TEMPLE,  the true sanctuary, consisting of all

redeemed humanity, in which God dwells. All Churches are but chapels in its side

aisles. Its ample roof covers them all, and will shelter new forms of Christian

fellowship as yet undreamed of. Through the ages it is being slowly builT, like

some great cathedral unfinished for centuries, each of which has added

something to the pile. And as the Church as a whole is the temple, so its

members in detail are temples of God. By a real though mysterious

indwelling, more real if one may say so, and less mysterious than that by

which he inhabits eternity or dwells in the material universe, God comes

and makes his abode in every believing soul (John 14:23).  THE DIVINE

SPIRIT  can fill and penetrate the human spirit, as the sunshine drenches

and saturates some poor film of mist, till every particle is suffused with

the fiery brightness. We are too apt to water down that most solemn and

blessed truth of God’s indwelling into the mere presence of an influence on

our spirits. We need to rise to the height of the wonderful, awful, gladsome thought


JESUS CHRIST!  He, and none but He, brings God to men, and none but

God. He alone is, (“Who being the brightness of His glory, and the express

image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power,

when HE HAD BY HIMSELF PURGED OUR SINS, sat down on the

right hand of the Majesty on high” - Hebrews 1:3) -  in real essential unity,

man’s Representative and Intercessor. He alone offers the sacrifice for the

world. He stands THE SOLE PRIEST,  His office unique, His Person sole

and supreme, having and tolerating no companions in His solemn entrance

within the veil, and having neither beginning of days nor end of life. There

is but one Priest in the Church. There are no priests in the Church. All are

priests in the Church.


Our true sacrifice is the surrender of our wills to the Divine will

and, losing ourselves in utter surrender, may have our poor sacrifice




6 “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 (περιέχειperiecheiit is contained; it is

being included) is impersonal; it is similarly used in Josephus, ‘Ant.,’ 11:7.

Compare the use of the substantive περιοχή periochaeplace -  in

Acts 8:32. Peter proceeds to quote the prophecy (Isaiah 28:16) to which he

has already referred.  “Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect,

precious:” -  The passage is taken from the Septuagint, with the omission of

some words not important for the present purpose. Paul quotes the same prophecy

still more freely (Romans 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 ˆymia’h,, 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.  “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is

stayed on thee.”  (Isaiah 26:3)


Christ is the Corner-Stone of God’s Creation!  He is the Foundation of the

highest and purest form of social life, in which ultimately all others shall

merge, and men be one in Him. He is the Basis of all true thoughts of God,

man, immortality, and duty. He is the Motive and Inspiration of the purest

life. His Person, work, and teaching underlie all being, all peace, and all

nobleness. He is the “living Stone,” inasmuch as in Him is essential life,

and He ever lives to be the Source of life to all who build on Him.  Peter’s

thought, then, is that all in Christ which makes Him precious belongs or passes on

to us by faith. That is a profound thought put in very simple and homely words.

Faith makes us owners of all CHRIST’S INFINITE WORTH!  The living

Stone is said to make those who come to Him also living stones, and Christians are

represented as being like their Lord, living temples, consecrated priests, and

acceptable sacrifices. The idea that vital union with Christ brings about a

communication of qualities from Him to His followers, as if the virtue of the

Foundation rose through all the building, is surely taught in a hundred places in



We need not fear to pile upon it all the pressure of our cares and

sorrows, or to rear on it a fabric of our hopes and security, it will stand.

Those who have reared their lives on other foundations will stand aghast

when they feel them crumbling away in some hour of supreme need. (I remember

my paternal grandmother telling me about it when she quoted the Sermon on the

Mount which included Matthew 7:26-27 – CY – 2012).  They will have to flee

with the haste (just the opposite of the teaching of Isaiah 28:16) of despair from

the falling ruins. But if we have built on Christ, we shall have no need for haste,

and no pale confusion need ever blanch our cheeks. The steadfastness of the

Foundation will avail to make us who are built upon it steadfast too, and, if we

believe, all its preciousness will be ours and for us.


The way this “preciousness” becomes ours is to believe on Him whom God

sent for just this purpose, our salvation!  (John 6:29)  The order of the sentence

in the original  puts emphasis on “who believe.” The purpose of

the clause is to mark the persons to whom alone the preciousness belongs,

in sharp and solemn contrast with another class, to whom none of the

saving, but only the destructive, powers which lie in the Foundation pass

over. The worth of Christ is ours on one condition, but that condition is

inexorable; faith, simple trust, WHICH TAKES HIM FOR WHAT HE IS




How can Christ’s sacrifice benefit me if I do not believe in it? What

possible connection can be established between Him and me, except

through my trust in Him? Faith is but stretching out the hard to grasp His

extended hand.  (I remember in the mid 1970’s, at a Bill Glass Crusade in

Hopkinsville at  Tiger Stadium, a former Miss Illinois, whom I thing also, was Miss

America, sang a song, Reach Out to Jesus!  He is Reaching Out to You! –

that occasion still is in my memory and if you or I will faithfully witness for our

God, through the Holy Spirit’s help, others too will come to know and remember

the goodness of our God! - CY – 2012)  How can he hold me up, or give me

the blessings of which his hands are full, if mine hang listless by my side,

or are resolutely clenched behind my back? Faith is the opening of the heart

 for the inflow of His gifts. How can the sunshine enter the house if doors

are barred and windows shuttered? Faith is but the channel through which

His grace pours.  How can it enter if there be no channel? Faith is the sole

 condition. Let us learn, then, how much and HOW LITTLE IT TAKES TO


 How much? Nothing less than the surrender of our hearts to Him in entire

 self-distrust and abasement, and in absolute reliance on His all-sufficiency

 for our every need.


7 “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 - timae - honor, an echo of the ἔντιμος

entimosprecious iterally, “held in honor”) of v. 6; and thus the further

meaning may be implied, “The worth which the stone has it has for you

who believe.” 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. Peter repeats the words of the hundred and eighteenth

psalm, quoted by our Lord in Matthew 21:42, and by himself in Acts 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”  (Philippians 2:8-9).  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 that the

building of the second temple may have recalled to the mind of the psalmist Isaiah’s

prophecy of the Chief Cornerstone.


  • What Christ is to Believers?  The apostle confirms his teaching by

an appeal to the prophets: “It is contained in the Scriptures” (v.6),

 he says.  Search the Scriptures; they testify of Christ (John 5:39); we shall

find treasures there, if only we search. The evangelical prophet testified

of Christ long before He came in the flesh; he spoke of Him as the chief

Cornerstone; he speaks in the Name of God, “Thus saith the Lord God,

 Behold I lay in Zion for a foundation a Stone, a tried Stone, a precious

Cornerstone, a sure Foundation.” God the Father is the Master-builder;

it was He who ]aid the Cornerstone: “This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous

in our eyes” (Psalm 118:23).  It is laid in Zion, in the Church, to be its one

Foundation, the Rock on which it is built, which gives it strength and solidity;

its chief Corner-stone, which gives it unity, without which it would fall to pieces.

And that chief Cornerstone is elect, chosen of God from all eternity,

chosen in the eternal purpose of God the Father to be the Foundation

of the Church. And it is precious exceedingly, held in high honor of God,

worthy of His love, for it is faultless in beauty and in strength — a polished

Cornerstone without flaw and without blemish. He that resteth on that

Cornerstone, built up in faith upon it, shall not be put to shame.

God hath laid this precious Stone in Zion for this very purpose that

weary souls may rest upon it and he that so resteth need not make haste;

he need not run hither and thither for help, for his soul is established, his mind

is stayed upon God. Nothing can shake him from that sure Foundation, while

he rests on it in faith, “neither death, nor life… nor things present, nor

 things to come,… shall be able to separate us from the love of God,

which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).  “Such honor have

all his saints.” This honor is for them that believe; they have the honor, high

above all other honor,  Of indissoluble union with Christ; they rest on Him, they

are His and HE IS  THEIRS!  “My beloved is mine, and I am his”

(Song of Solomon 2:16).  They know the exceeding preciousness of that

living Stone, for they feel its strong support beneath them; its preciousness

is for them; for their sakes, for their salvation, God laid that elect, that precious

Stone in Zion. How precious faith is (II Peter 1:1)!  It is faith that binds us firmly

to that precious Cornerstone.


  • What is Christ  to the disobedient?  or to such as disbelieve (Revised

Version); for unbelief itself is THE GRAND DISOBEDIENCE!

“This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom He hath sent”

(John 6:29). Unbelief lies at the root of all disobedience; all disobedience

flows from it; he cannot be disobedient who realizes by faith the power, the

love, the presence, of God. The builders were disobedient; the priests and

scribes disallowed the stones which God had chosen. So, alas! now too often

the great men of the world, the builders of its policy, “leave out Christ in

their building;” (within the last 24 hours, the Democratic Party had left

out God from their platform at the 2012 convention and had to pull some

strings to get the word back in!  - CY – 2012) and not only they, but sometimes

“the pretended builders of the Church of God, though they use the name of

Christ, and serve their turn with that, yet reject Himself, and oppose the

power of His spiritual kingdom. There may be wit and learning, and much

knowledge of the Scriptures amongst those that are haters of the Lord

Christ and of the power of godliness, and corrupters of the worship of

God. It is the spirit of humility and obedience and saving faith that teaches

men to esteem Christ, and to build upon him. But the unbelief and

 disobedience of men cannot turn aside the purpose of God; (one

of my favorite scriptures is “If we believe not, yet He abideth

faithful:  He cannot deny Himself” (II Timothy 2:13).   The living

Stone that was once disallowed is become the Head of the corner. He is

exalted high above all the power of the enemy. “The kings of the earth may

set themselves, and the rulers may take counsel together against the

Lord, and against His Anointed.… But He that sitteth in the heavens

 shall laugh,… He shall speak unto them in His wrath,… Yet have I

set my King upon my holy hill of Zion” (Psalm 2:2-6).  He is the Head

of the corner now, “Head over all things to His Church” (Ephesians 1:22).

“He must reign till He hath put all enemies under His feet” (I Corinthians

15:25), then shall the King sit upon the throne of His glory, and they who

have rejected Him shall to their confusion see him raised “far above all

principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that

 is named, not only in this world, but ALSO IN THAT WHICH IS TO

COME!” (Ephesians 1:21)   But He is to the disobedient not only the Head

of the corner to their confusion, but also A STONE OF STUMBLING


no light thing to reject the Son of God, to set the cross at naught, to

despise the love of Him who died upon the cross for us (Hebrews 10:29).

Such sinners against their own souls must fall. He tasted death for every man;

and to every man the death of the Son of God is full of momentous results —

everlasting life to the believer, but to the willful and impenitent sinner

what can it be save UTTER DEATH? The living Stone is the Foundation,

the Head of the corner; “this is the Lord’s doing,” and who can stand against

the Lord? The Stone becomes a Stumbling-block to the disobedient; they fall

upon it.  One day it must fall on them, as in the vision of Nebuchadnezzar it fell

on the great image which represented all the empires of the world.

“Whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken; but on whomsoever

it shall fall, it will grind him to powder” (Matthew 21:44).  For THIS IS

THE LORD’S APPOINTMENT!  That Stone must become a great mountain

and fill the whole earth; and resistance to the decree of the Most High can only

end in ruin and destruction;


The Grim Alternative (v. 7)


If the condition of possession of salvation be as the apostle declares it, then the

absence of the condition means non-possession of salvation. The freeness

and. simplicity of the gospel of salvation by faith has necessarily a dark under side,

and the more clearly and joyfully the one is preached the more clearly and solemnly

should the other be. Therefore Peter’s message would not be complete without the

awful “but” which follows. Christ is something to every man to whom He is preached,

and does something to him. Mark how significantly the following clause varies

the statement of the condition, substituting “disobedient” as the antithesis

of “believing,” thereby teaching us that unbelief is disobedience, being an

act of the rebel will, and that disobedience is unbelief. But observe, too,

that while faith is the condition of all reception of Christ’s blessings,

unbelief does not so isolate from Him as that He is nothing to the man.

Unbelief, like some malignant cancer, perverts all Christ’s preciousness to

harm and loss, as some plants elaborate poison in their tissues from

sunshine and sweet dews. One thing or other that great Savior must be to

us all. We cannot stand wholly unaffected by him. We cannot make

ourselves as if we had never heard of Him. There is a solemn alternative

offered to each of us — “either… or.” Either life is being received or

life is being rejected OUR DEATH!   There will come to us from Him

either the gracious influences which save, or the terrible ones which

destroy. He is either the merciful Fire which cleanses and transforms,

or the awful Fire which consumes. Faith builds on Him as the Foundation,

AND IS SECURE!   Unbelief pulls down that Rock of offence on its own

 head, AND IS GROUND TO POWDER BY THE FALL!  (Matthew 21:44)


8 “And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense,” -  Peter combines Isaiah

8:14 with his first quotations, as Paul also does (Romans 9:33), both apostles quoting

from the Hebrew, not from the Septuagint, which is quite different, inserting two

negatives. The living Stone is not only made the Head of the corner to the

 confusion of the disobedient, but becomes also to their destruction a Stone

 of stumbling; they fall on that Stone, and are broken (Matthew 21:44). That Stone

is a Rock (πέτρα), THE ROCK OF AGES, the Rock on which the Church is

 built; but to the disobedient it is A ROCK OF OFFENSE  (πέτρα σκανδάλου

petra skandalourock of offense; )  Σκάνδαλον (in Attic Greek σκανδάληθρον

skandalaethron - is properly the catch or spring of a trap, which makes animals fall

into the trap; then a stumbling-block) — anything which causes men to fall. We

cannot fail to notice how Peter echoes the well-remembered words of our Lord,

recorded in Matthew 16:18, 23. Peter was himself then a πέτρα σκανδάλου

a rock of offense - “even to themwhich stumble at the word, being disobedient:” –

literally, who being disobedient stumble at the Word — the relative referring back

to “them which be disobedient” in v. 7. This seems better than to take τῷ λόγῳ -

to logo – the Word - with ἀπειθοῦντεςapeithountesones being disobedient;

ones being stubborn; -“who stumble, being disobedient to the Word.” Ἀπειθοῦντες,

literally,“unbelieving,” contains here, as frequently, the idea of disobedience,

WILLFUL OPPOSITION.   Peter seems to come very near to John’s use of Λόγος

Logos – Word - for the personal Word, the Lord Jesus Christ - “whereunto also

they were appointed.”  “Whereunto” (εἰς -  eis o) cannot refer back to v. 5; God

had appointed them to be built up in His spiritual house, BUT THEY

WERE DISOBEDIENT! It must refer either to ἀπειθοῦντες — sin is punished

by sin; for sin in God’s awful judgment hardens the heart; the disobedient

are in danger of ETERNAL SIN (Mark 3:29, according to the two oldest

manuscripts) — or, more probably, to προσκόπουσινproskopousin



does not necessarily imply condemnation (see Romans 11:11). The

word, the preaching of Christ crucified, was to the Jews a stumbling-block

(I Corinthians 1:23). But not all stumbled that they might fall. Nevertheless,




9 “But ye are a chosen generation,” - The pronoun “ye” is emphatic. 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, (γένος ἐκλεκτόνgenos eklekton - a chosen

generation), are from Isaiah 43:20, Γένος μου τὸ ἐκλεκτόνGenos mou to

eklektonto my people, my chosen. . 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 BY THE ONE FATHER - “a royal

priesthood,” – Instead of “holy,” as in v. 5, Peter has here the epithet “royal.”

He follows the Septuagint Version of Exodus 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 (Revelation 3:21; 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.  -  “ an holy

nation,” - Also from Exodus 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 περιποίησινlaos eis

peripoiaesina people for His own  possession; represent the words, עַם סְגֻלָּה,

of Deuteronomy 7:6, translated by the Septuagint. λαὸν περιούσιονlaon periousion

a special people - (Authorized Version).  Paul also has this translation in Titus 2:14.

The Hebrew word סְגֻלָּה in Malachi 3:17 is rendered by the Septuagint,  εἰς

περιποίησινeis peripoiaesin - my jewels - Authorized Version.  The children

of Israel are called סְגֻלַּת יְחוָה, as the peculium, the private, special, treasured

possession of God.  God says of them, in Isaiah 43:21, “This people have I

formed for myself; they shall show forth my praise;” rendered by the Septuagint.

Λαόν μου ο}ν περιεποιησάμην τὰς ἀρετάς μου διηγεῖσθαιLaon mou on

periepoiaesamaen tas aretas mou diaegeisthaiMy people have I preserved

to tell of my righteous acts.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 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” (compare I Thessalonians 5:9;

also Acts 20:28, “The Church of God, which He purchased (η}ν περιεποιήσατο

haen periepoinaesatowhich He procures; which He hath purchased ) with

His own blood”) - “that ye should shew 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” (ἀρετάςaretas -  literally, virtues), so very common

in classical writers, occurs in the New Testament only here,  II Peter 1:3, 5, and

Philippians 4:8.  Here Peter is quoting from the Septuagint Version of Isaiah 43:21

(the word is similarly used in Isaiah 42:12 and 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” (Romans 8:30).  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.


The benefit that a man receives when he allows Jesus Christ into his heart, is that

he is made a king!  The true Christian has a royal heart; he reigns with Christ the

King over the passions, affections, and desires of his lower nature.  High and holy

dignities are his!  The estate of the Christian is very lofty; they are the children of

the Most High, heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ!  (Romans 8:17)  They

should maintain a greatness of mind, a holiness of life suitable to their exalted station;

they “should show forth the praises of Him who hath called them out of

darkness into His marvelous light.”  Christians never cease to wonder at the glory

and blessedness of that light which in times of near communion with God streams into

their hearts. If they walk in that light, it must kindle a holy flame in their own souls; they

must become a light also (“Ye are the light of the world,” the Savior said to His

chosen – Matthew 5:14); they must let their light shine before men, that men

 may see their good works, and glorify their Father which is in heaven.

(Ibid. v. 16)


The remarkable word rendered “praise” in the Authorized Version makes

the quotation from Isaiah unmistakable, as it is found in the Septuagint

rendering of the verse, from which the apostle is quoting. It literally means

“virtues,” or, if that word is felt to be inappropriate to the Divine nature,

the translation of the Revised Version, “excellencies,” may be adopted. In

either case the meaning is that the great end of the Church’s existence is to

manifest the glories of the Divine character, and so to praise Him. We

praise God best when we set forth what He is. For this end creation came

into being, that it might be a mirror of God, and eyes were made that in the

mirror they might behold Him and rejoice in the vision. We have received Christ

that we may impart Christ. “God hath shined in our hearts, that we might

give to others the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of

Jesus Christ” (II Corinthians 4:6).  Every creature has this  for its highest end,

 to glorify God, because that was God’s end in its creation.  Of creatures man

is the highest revelation of the Divine character; and among men,  man redeemed

is the highest.


Thus we may and should become means of making God visible and lovely to dim

eyes which could not bear to look on His brightness except as reflected in the

mirror of our characters. All the beauty of self-sacrifice which has ever irradiated

a saint, all the heroism of the martyr, all the wisdom and eloquence of the teachers,

all the prudence of the leaders, all the charity and benevolence, are but the reflex

of His excellences. All these, which gleam so brightly in the dark world, are but

diamond dust, microscopic fragments, as it were, from the solid rock of His

infinite perfection.


We should proclaim Gods excellences by direct works, as occasion

serves. Every Christian is bound both to witness for God by a life made fair

by communion with Him, and by speech, when ‘speech may be used. It is

not enough to show forth His Name in our lives, for sometimes life needs a

commentary, and a Christian will often have to avow the principles which

guide his actions, in plain words, if the actions are to be intelligible or he to

be faithful. Common honesty requires it. Loyalty to our Lord requires it.

Ordinary humanity requires it. God has entrusted all Christian men with the

treasure of His love in Christ, not that they may themselves be enriched

only, but also that by them it may be ministered to others; and the dumb

Christian who has never opened his mouth to press the gospel on others

incurs a worse “curse” than that which falls on him who withholdeth

bread” from starving lips.  (Proverbs 11:26)


10 “Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God:”

Peter quotes the prophecy of Hosea 2:23, as Paul also does in Romans 9:25-26.

And as Paul applies the prophet’s words (said originally of the Jews) to the Christian

Church, to those called “not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles,” so

apparently does Peter here. They were not a people; it is the calling of God which

gives a unity to the Church gathered out of all races and all lands, and makes

it the people of God - “which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained

mercy.”  The aorist participle, ἐλεηθέντεςeleaethentes -  have obtained mercy;

being shown mercy - implies that that mercy had been obtained at a definite time,

at their conversion.


11 “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims,” -  Peter returns

to practical topics: he begins his exhortation in the affectionate manner common in

Holy Scripture. He calls his readers “strangers and pilgrims.” The word here

Rendered “strangers” (πάροικοιparoikoi - sojourners) is equivalent to the

classical μέτοικοιmetoikoi - foreign settlers, dwellers in a strange land.

The second word (παρεοίδημοιpareoidaemoi -  translated

“strangers” in 1 Peter 1:1) means “visitors” who tarry for a time in a foreign

country, not permanently settling in it. It does not contain the ideas

associated with the modern use of “pilgrim;” though that word, derived

from the Latin peregrinus, originally meant no more than “sojourner.”

Peter is plainly using the words metaphorically - his readers were citizens of

the heavenly country; on earth they were sojourners. Both words occur in

the Septuagint Version of Psalm 39:12 with the same metaphorical meaning –

“abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against  the soul;”  Strangers and

pilgrims should remember their distant home, and not follow the practices of the

strange land in which they sojourn. The lusts of the flesh are all those desires

which issue out of our corrupt nature (compare Galatians 5:16-21). They

war against the soul” (compare Romans 7:23).  Peter uses the word “soul

here for the whole spiritual nature of man, as in ch.1:9, 22.


The influence these disorderly passions is hostile to our own inward life!  “Which

 war against the soul;” war against all the garrison and inmates of the soul —

against reason, defying and dishonoring it; against memory, burdening and crushing it;

against hope, darkening it and turning it into terror; against imagination, polluting and

degrading it; against conscience, cutting and maiming, though they cannot kill it; against

the affections, ravaging and spoiling them; in a word, against “the soul.


12 “Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles:” – If we read

ἀπέχεσθαιapechesthaiabstain -  in ver. 11 (some ancient manuscripts have

ἀπέχεσθε), there is a slight irregularity in the construction, as the participle ἔνοντες

echonteshaving -  is nominative; it gives more force and vividness to the

sentence (compare in the Greek, Ephesians 4:2; Colossians 3:16). The conversation

(ἀναστροφή - anastrophaeconversation;  mode of life or behavior) of the

unconverted is described as “vain” in ch.1:18; the conversation of Christians must

be seemly (καλή - kalae - ideal), exhibiting the beauty of holiness. The Churches

to which Peter wrote were in Gentile countries; they must be careful, for the honor of

their religion, to set a good example among the heathen — a warning, alas! too

often neglected in modern as well as in ancient times -  “that, whereas they speak

against you as evildoers,” -  literally, wherein, in the matter in which they speak,

 i.e. in reference to manner of life.  Christians were commonly accused of “turning

the world upside down;” of doing “contrary to the decrees of Caesar,” as at

Thessalonica (Acts 17:6-7); of being atheists and blasphemers of the popular idolatry,

as at Ephesus (Ibid. ch.19:37). -“they may by your good works, which they shall

behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.”  The word rendered, “which they

shall behold” (ἐποπτεύσαντεςepopteusantes)  or, according to some of the

older manuscripts, ἐποπτεύοντες epopteuontes -  beholding), occurs only here

and in ch.3:2. It implies close attention; the Gentiles watched the conduct of the

 Christians, narrowly scrutinizing it to discover faults and inconsistencies. The use of

the corresponding substantive, ἐπόπτης - epoptaeseye witnesses; spectators – in

II Peter 1:16 is a coincidence to be noticed.  Peter hopes that this close observation

of the lives of Christian people would lead the Gentiles TO GLORIFY GOD!

He was thinking, perhaps, of our Lord’s words in the Sermon on the Mount: “Let your

light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your

 Father which is in heaven’ (Matthew 5:16).  Perhaps in the following clause also

we may trace an echo of the Savior’s words in Luke 19:44, Because thou knewest

not the time of thy visitation” (ἐπισκοπῆςepiskopaes - visitation). Peter hopes

that the holy lives of Christians may be made the means of saving many Gentile souls

in the time of visitation; that is, when God should visit the heathen with His

converting grace, seeking to draw them to Himself, whether by gracious

chastisement or by the preaching of His servants. This seems more natural

than to understand the words of God’s visitation of the Christians in the

persecutions which were impending; though it is true that many Gentiles

were won to Christ by the calm and holy bearing of suffering Christians.



     The Demand for a Life Becoming the Christian Name (vs. 11-12)


The doctrinal part of the Epistle is now followed by a series of practical exhortations

on the working out of the redemption of which it has spoken.  And the apostle here

begins these as close as can be to the man’s own self; he has to speak abort right

citizenship, and neighborliness, etc.; but before he comes to these he starts with

the man’s own self. “Fleshly lusts;” not to be understood of desires for physical

gratification only. “Fleshly” is, in Scripture, the opposite of “spiritual.” “Works

of the flesh” are the antithesis of “works of the Spirit.” “Now the works of the

 flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness,

lasciviousness” -  the list includes “idolatry, hatred, wrath, strife, envyings

not physical qualities at all. So the expression refers to all desires that are

wrong. (See Galatians 5:19-21).  (Remember the teaching of Romans 8:6 –

“For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life

and peace.” – CY – 2012)   “Having your conversation honest”  

“Having your behavior seemly” (Revised Version). “The day of visitation.”

Any crisis in which God draws near to a man with a view to his redemption,

and which results in grace or judgment — the apostle thinks here of that. So

the idea of the paragraph is, “You Christians, so regulate your desires that

your life will be becoming, and thus the heathen around you, prejudiced

against Christ, will be prepared to receive the gospel when it is urged upon

 them.” This is a timely subject when the Church wonders at the little power of

the gospel, and seeks new means to “evangelize the masses.” Gospel-preaching

must be supported by gospel-living. Next to the inborn ungodliness of the

natural heart, the great hindrance to Christ’s kingdom is the Church’s own




CHURCH. There is a certain behavior which becomes God’s people, if

only because they are closely observed by the ungodly; the world has a

standard of character it expects the Church to reach. We may discourage

ourselves by overestimating that standard (probably they do not look for

perfection), but we must beware lest we underrate it. What is this

character? (Let us remember that it is character; that they care nothing for

creed, nor for habits of devotion, nor for our statements as to religious

experience, but demand a certain life from the people of God, and watch

for it as with an eagle’s glance.)


Ø      It must be an exemplification of righteousness. Straightforward,

aboveboard, strictly upright action, come what may — nothing less

becomes the children of the Holy One. Social and commercial morality

are not enough.  Christian morality, which the world has a right to

expect in us, is action from right principle at any cost.


Ø      It must be an exhibition of peace. The Christian says, “God loves

And cares for me; He is my Father; for me He laid down His life; to

me He has given all blessing in His Son; and I trust Him.” Then the

world looks in him for that rest of soul which writes itself on

the face, silences impatient utterance, and restrains the hasty deed.

Nothing less becomes such profession.


Ø      It must be animated by kind consideration for others. Even

righteousness will not satisfy the world; there must be also love.

Less cannot become those who have His Spirit of whom it is said,

“And GOD IS LOVE!” On the top of the pillars of uprightness

there must be the lily work of love; yea, those pillars, hard and cold,

must be wreathed from base to capital with love’s sweet flowers

and fruit, or onlookers will refuse to believe they are pillars of

God’s temple.


  • THE REASON FOR THIS DEMAND. Three powerful reasons are

suggested here.


Ø      The Christian is essentially different from the world. “Strangers

[in another place translated ‘foreigners’] and pilgrims.” “Ye are not

of the world” (John 15:19); “Ye are come to the heavenly

Jerusalem (Hebrews 12:22);  citizens of another country, subjects

of another King, passing through this world to that to which the

Heaven-born nature aspires. We are more than others (we are

born again); we have more than others (the all-sufficient grace

of the Holy Spirit); we owe more than others (redeemed with the

precious blood of Christ); THEN WE OUGHT TO BE MORE



Ø      The world regards the Christian with some prejudice. “They

speak against you as evil-doers.’ The history of the period confirms

that; Christian writings of the second century constantly refute false

charges of the immorality of Christianity.  (Is it not characteristic

of the secularist media today to do the same? – CY – 2012)  These false

charges are likely to be perpetual; for “if they have called the Master

of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them

of His household?” (Matthew 10:25)  -  then so much the more reason

for becoming conduct on our part.  We cannot reason, but we can live

down, this prejudice. Each line of life is credited with certain evils; by

living above those evils the Christian must roll this prejudice

against Christianity away.


Ø      The influence of Christian character on the world is incalculable.

“By your good works which they shall behold, they may glorify God

 in the day of visitation.” An unspeakably solemn word. It implies that,

when they are visited by God’s mercy, their acceptance of that mercy

depends largely on the previous influence of the lives of God’s people.

Before Lazarus could come forth from his grave at Christ’s word, men

must roll away the stone. So the stone of prejudice against Christ. By

unbecoming conduct we may harden men in sin and unbelief;

by becoming conduct we may prepare the way of the Lord.

“But sanctify the Lord God in your  hearts:  and be ready to

give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the

 hope that is in you with meekness and fear:  Having a good

conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers,

 they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good

 conversation in Christ.”  (ch. 3:15-16).


fleshly lusts, which war against the soul.”


Ø      Becoming character begins with the heart. “Out of the heart

are the issues of life” (Proverbs 4:23).  Only that can come from us

which is first put in us. Christian lives are not produced by laying aside

this blemish or taking up that excellence, but by prolonged and secret

heart-work. “As a man’s heart is, so is he.”  (Ibid. 23:7)


Ø      This heart-work requires ABSTINENCE  from whatever wars

 against the soul!. Not necessarily bad things, but anything that

militates against spiritual life. Every wish must be crucified which may

be a hindrance to me or to others - “bringing into captivity

every thought to the obedience of Christ.”  (II Corinthians 10:5)


Ø      This abstinence comes from a remembrance of our obligation

 to God.  Some trees only lose their leaves when new ones come

and push them off; thus only by the incoming of new desires and

affections do we lose the old ones. The eleventh verse follows

the ninth and tenth verses. Abstinence from evil desires follows as

a matter of course A REMEMBRANCE OF WHAT GOD HAS

DONE FOR US  and an appropriation of the sublime blessings it



13 “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man” -  The aorist passive

(ὑποτάγητεhupotagaetesubmit yourselves) is used, as often, in a middle

sense. The word for “ordinance” is κτίσιςktisis -  which in classical Greek

means “foundation,” as of a city; but in the New Testament is used elsewhere only

of the works of God, in the sense of “creation,” or “a creature” (see Mark 16:15;

Colossians 1:23.).   ἀνθρωπίνη κτίσις anthropinae ktisisordinance of

Man -  is a strange and awkward periphrasis for ἄνθρωποςanthroposman.

It is better to understand it as meaning a human creation or foundation. Certainly

“there is no power but of God” (Romans 13:1); but the form which that power

assumes is a human institution. Peter bids his readers to submit themselves to the de

facto form of government -“for the Lord’s sake:” - Not from human motives,

as fear of punishment; but for the Lord’s sake, because “the powers that be

are ordained of God,” and in obeying them we obey the ordinance of God.

Christians were commonly accused of insubordination, of doing “contrary

to the decrees of Caesar” (Acts 17:7); they must show by their conduct

that these accusations are false, that the progress of the gospel be not hindered -

“whether it be to the king, as supreme;” - By “the king” is meant

the Roman emperor, who was frequently so described in the Greek writers.

Nero was emperor when Peter wrote. Christians were to obey even

him, wicked tyrant as he was; for his power was given him from above, as

the Lord himself had said of Pilate (John 19:11).


14 “Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him” - literally,

through Him. Some commentators, following Calvin, understand the pronoun

of the Lord. Certainly, governors are sent through Him; He ordereth all things,

 both in heaven and earth.” (Colossians 1:16).  But it seems more natural

in this place to refer the pronoun to the nearer substantive, the king; it was

through the Roman emperor that the various governors, legates, etc., were

sent from time to time (as the Greek present participle implies) to

administer the provinces. -“for the punishment of evildoers, and for

the praise of them that do well.”  Observe the close resemblance to

Romans 13:3-4. Peter recognizes the Roman sense of justice which

we see in men like Festus and Gallio. At first the Jews were the persecutors

of the Christians; the Roman magistrates were their protectors. Peter

wrote before the great outbreaks of Roman persecution; he was himself to

suffer under that emperor whose authority he upheld.


15 “For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence

the ignorance of foolish men:”  The Gentiles speak against the Christians as

evil-doers; they are to put their accusers to silence by well-doing; (We

should live in a way that, if someone was to slander us, no one would believe it –

CY – 2012) - this is to be their answer rather than indignant self-vindication

(which is so tempting – CY – 2012).  The Greek word rendered “put to silence”

(φιμοῦνphimoun) means literally “to muzzle” (compare Matthew 22:12;

Mark 4:39; I Corinthians 9:9). The word for “ignorance” (ἀγνωσίαagnosia)

occurs, besides this passage, only in I Corinthians 15:34, where it evidently means

“culpable, self-caused ignorance.” The word for “foolish” (ἄφρωνaphron)

is a strong one — it means “senseless” (compare Ibid. v.36). Here it has the article,

“the foolish men,” i.e. those “who speak against you as evil-doers.”



The Christian Citizen (vs. 13-15)




Ø      Regarded in itself, it is a human institution, but it is nevertheless

ordained by God. In this respect it is in the same case as the family. To

believe in a Divine Ruler and a divinely appointed order, is to accept the

state and its ordinances as appointed by the wisdom of God Himself.


Ø      The Christian recognizes the Divine principle of government as

personified in civil rulers. These are supreme-as kings; or persons

commissioned, and exercising delegated power, as governors.


Ø      The Christian perceives the necessity of those functions which rulers are

bound to discharge. There is no government worthy of the name

which does not punish evil-doers, and protect, favor, and praise

those who do well.




Ø      Generally speaking, that duty is submission, loyalty, and cheerful

obedience. When laws are promulgated, the Christian respects and

observes them; when taxes are levied, the Christian pays them;

 when service is required, the Christian renders it.


Ø      He acknowledges that this course of conduct is supported alike by the

example and by the teaching of Christ.


Ø      Yet this obedience is within certain limits, and is subject to certain

reservations. No man is under obligation to obey an ordinance of the civil

power which is contradictory to the express and unmistakable law of God.

And when the ruler himself is disloyal, and violates the constitution to

which ruler and subject alike are subject, there are cases in which even

resistance is allowable, if not binding.



GOVERNMENT. He does not act simply in his own interest, to avoid

penalties, to secure place.


Ø      He obeys for the Lord’s sake, i.e. with a Christian aim before him.


Ø      He obeys because such is the will of God Himself.


Ø      He obeys in order to remove hindrances from the way of the progress of

Christianity among men. Scandals are avoided, prejudices are overcome,

good will is conciliated; and the path is made clear for the progress of the

gospel. Loyalty to the state and to the sovereign is loyalty to Christ, to God!


16 “As free,” - This verse is not to be taken with what follows, for it

does not well cohere with the contents of v. 17; but either with v. 14

(v. 15 being regarded as parenthetical) or with v. 15, notwithstanding

the change of case in the original, which presents no real difficulty; the

meaning being that Christian freedom must show itself, not in license, but

in willing obedience to constituted authorities: “Not only for wrath, but for

conscience’ sake” (Romans 13:5). Those whom the truth makes free are free

indeed, but true freedom implies submission to legitimate authority - “and not

using your liberty for a cloak of maliciousness,” -  literally, not having your

 liberty as a cloak. The word rendered “cloak” (ἐπικάλυμμαepikalumma)

is used in the Septuagint (Exodus 26:14) for the covering of the tabernacle. The

pretence of Christian liberty must not be made a covering, a concealment,

of wickedness - “but as the servants of God.”  The truest liberty is that of the

servants of God; His service is perfect freedom (compare Romans 6:16-23).


The Scriptures everywhere represent the service of sin as serfdom, not as

honorable and worthy of such a being as man. And experience shows that

this view is just, that the servant of sin is the slave of sin. It is possible for

men to be Christian in name and to be in bondage to things from which they

ought to be free.  Often men exercise freedom in things to which they ought

to show RESTRAINT!  Now, from this bondage Christ liberates His people.

Sin has not dominion over them.  True service and true liberty are united in the

life of Christ alone! No created power could effect this great enfranchisement;

it is the work of the Divine Savior clothed with the omnipotence of Heaven.


17 “Honor all men.” - Peter illustrates the well-doing which he

enjoins in v. 15, drawing out his general exhortation into four rules of

conduct. First, he bids us give honor to all men. The Christians of Asia

Minor saw heathenism and vice all around them; they heard of the

abominable life of Nero and his courtiers at Rome. They were conscious of

a great and elevating change which had passed over themselves; Peter

has just been enumerating the dignities and privileges of the Christian life.

But they must not be lifted up; they must despise no one, but honor in all

men the handiwork of God, created after God’s own image, THOUGH

SADLY MARRED AND DEFACED BY SIN!   Respect is due to all men,

of course in varying degrees and to be shown in different ways; but in some sense

it is due to all, to the humblest and even to the worst. The aorist imperative

(τιμήσατεtimaesatehonor ye) seems to lay down this principle as a sharp,

definite rule, to be accepted at once, and to be applied as need arises,

according to the circumstances of each case. The three following imperatives

are present; the duties which they prescribe are viewed as continuous, recognized

elements in well-doing. There was something new and strange in the command to

honor all men; it is expressed forcibly, once for all, by the aorist imperative.  

“Love the brotherhood.” - The word ἀδελφότηςadelphotata -

brotherhood, is peculiar to Peter; it stands for the aggregate of Christian

brethren regarded as one body in Christ. The Lord bids us “love our

enemies” (Matthew 5:44).  Peter’s rule does not weaken the force of the

Savior’s precept. But love must vary in depth and degree according to the

varying relations of life; and the love which true Christians feel for the like-minded

must be one of its strongest forms. “Fear God. Honor the king.” The holy

fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. (Psalm 111:10).  The fear of God as the

King of kings will lead us to give due honor to earthly princes, who rule by His

controlling providence. It was especially necessary to urge the fear of God

as a motive, when the king to be honored was such as Nero.



The Christian’s Duty to the State (vs. 13-17)


We might regard vs.11-12 as the text of which the rest of the Epistle is the sermon.

The apostle first writes at length on their possession of personal redemption, and

then says, “Now for the life that becomes it.”  And he begins with that citizenship

which becomes the Christian. Very striking is it that the heavenly and the earthly

citizenship should be brought here into such close connection; it is when the apostle

has the highest conception of our relation to the spiritual kingdom (as in vs. 9-10.)

that he proceeds to speak of the lofty position we are to take as citizens of earth.

Probably there was special reason for emphasis on this; he was writing to Jews,

who had rather lax ideas of their obligations to human institutions in the Gentile world,

and were charged by the empire with being “bad subjects;” that, for example, was the

ostensible reason for the persecution by Nero. The subject is timely. Christians are

often in doubt as to the part they should take in public affairs. Here we have Divine

teaching respecting this.


  • THE DUTY OF CHRISTIAN CITIZENSHIP.  “Submit yourselves to

every human institution… whether it be to the king, as supreme; or unto

governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers,

and for the praise of them that do well “ — that includes all human institutions

for the well-being of the nation at large, whether in the wider circle of imperial,

or the narrower circle of local, matters, and, says the apostle, “Submit yourselves

to that.”


Ø      What is the submission which the Christian owes to the state?

The only submission possible to those to whom Peter wrote was that of

tribute and obedience; under the despotic policy of the empire they could

do no more; they had no power to ameliorate the laws nor to choose their

rulers. With us it is not so. If we only pay the taxes and obey the

authorities, we do not submit ourselves. “Submit yourselves unto God”

means “give yourselves.” So read the word “submit” here. The Christian is

bound to give not only his substance and doings to these, but himself. As

Christians, nothing ought to be alien to us which concerns the world our

Lord loved and died for.


Ø      What are the limits of this submission? We must read this with the

limitation everywhere implied. “Fearing God” comes before “honoring

the king.” Peter was himself an illustration of that, when he told the rulers

“We must obey God rather than man” (Acts 5:29).  But the text refers

to submission of ourselves; we must do that as far as we are to do all else

that is right — that is, as far as our opportunities and talents permit.

Opportunity and talent are the limit of duty. Health, home-claims, higher

claims, natural aptitude, etc., these show us where and how far we may

go. God’s barriers are always plain to him who fears God.


Ø      What, then, is the objection to this submission? We are told that

Christians are citizens of another world, and should have no part in this.

But it is mean to get all the good out of the world we can, and refuse

to do it all the good we can. We are told that Christ lived in the midst

of political corruption, and did not raise His voice against it. But He

was ever propagating those principles which undermine corruption,

and His healing miracles show that His heart was set on ameliorating

physical woe. We are told that we should come out of the world,

and be separate (II Corinthians 6:17).  But that cannot mean that the

Christian — the Christian physician, say — is to refuse to help the

world. If the world chooses to help me to do a good work, I know

no command which, because of their co-operation, bids me

stand aloof. 



FULFILLED. What is wanted is, not so much that Christians should take

these things up, as that they should do so from sacred conviction, and “as

becomes the gospel of Christ.”


Ø      This must be done for the Lords sake. The earth is the

Lord’s… the world and they that dwell therein” (Psalm 24:1).

How much does He care for men, who for them became

incarnate, and endured the death of the cross! Then

everything that tends to their development and enfranchisement

is dear to Him.


Ø      This must be done that with well-doing ye may put to silence the

ignorance of foolish men. If the world come to regard Christianity

as having to do mostly with beliefs and emotions, they will look upon it

as unreal and worthless. It is not by fighting “more or less extinct Satans

that we secure the world’s respect for Christ, but by earnestly

 grappling, for His sake, with the real evils of the day.


Ø      This must be done as servants of God. This duty is not without

Peril to personal spiritual life; it often calls the Christian to associate

with those who have no fear of God, and work accordingly, and

exposes him to the danger of falling to their level. The political

atmosphere is often morally deadening Our safety is in going into

this deliberately as God’s servants, to do His will, and that at any

cost, wearing heaven’s livery, and making heavenly influences tell

upon our fellowman.



FULFILLMENT OF THIS DUTY. “As free, and not using your liberty

 For a cloak of evil [kaki>a kakia - equivalent to ‘evil of any kind’].”

The Christian public man needs anxiously to look beneath his activity, and

see if any evil thing is concealed and fostered there.


Ø      There is the evil of self-seeking. Of doing this unconsciously,

not for Christ, but for personal ends.


Ø      And there is the evil of love of the world. Public life has a

terrible tendency to foster a spirit of worldliness, and to

counteract this we need plenty of heart and closet work. There

is no peril in this if we put “fear of God ‘ before the “honor of

the king” — if, whilst we “render to Caesar the things that

are Caesar’s,” we “render to God the things that are God’s”

(Mark 12:17); if, whilst submitting ourselves “to every human

institution” (v.13), we maintain the lofty feeling and character of

“the chosen generation, the royal priesthood, the people

peculiarly God’s own.”  (v.9).



Honor All Men (v. 17)


The common tendency of mankind is towards rendering honor to the great, those

possessing political power, those endowed with signal gifts of body or mind, those

possessed of vast wealth. Much of baseness in human character, of meanness in

human conduct, may be attributed to this tendency. Christianity sets itself to oppose

this current of opinion and action, as is most remarkably proved by this inspired

admonition, “Honor all men.”






Ø      Natural grounds. All men are creatures of God’s almighty power.

Not only so; all are made in the image of God, however that image has

been defiled and partially effaced by sin. Hence the capacity for great

things, for a holy and self-denying life, for fellowship with God.


Ø      Supernatural grounds. The revelation of God’s love and pity is for the

benefit of mankind at large. God is “the Savior of all men, specially of

those that believe” (I Timothy 4:10).  Christ died for all, and, as the

Son of man, partook the common nature, lived the common life, died the

death which is the common lot, that He might “draw all men unto

Himself” (John 12:32).  The provision of the gospel, the grace of the

Holy Spirit, are for all, irrespective of nation, of rank, of any

 adventitious distinction. How, then, can the Christian do other than

honor those for whom GOD HIMSELF, THE FOUNTAIN OF ALL

HONOR,  has done so great things?




Ø      By a watchful cherishing of a spirit respectful and considerate, and by

the avoidance of a contemptuous disposition.


Ø      By a sympathetic demeanor towards fellow-Christians, whatever

Their position in society.


Ø      By efforts for the enlightenment and evangelization of men of every

nation and every condition in life



Various Exhortations (vs. 11-17)




  • The Ground of the Exhortation. Peter has been dwelling on the high

dignities and privileges of the Christian life. They who are living stones in

God’s spiritual temple must remember their close union with Christ, the

chief Corner-stone; they who belong to the holy, the royal priesthood must

remember that “Holiness to the Lord” is the badge of those who are

consecrated to his service (Exodus 28:36). The living stones in the spiritual

temple are to become pillars in the heavenly temple (Revelation 3:12), the

priests in that spiritual temple are to be priests of God and of His Christ in

the glory of the Resurrection (Ibid. ch.20:6). They must remember their

high destiny. Here they are sojourners and strangers; they must not follow

the example of those among whom their lot is cast during the time of

 their sojourning. Fleshly lusts are of the earth, earthy. “The lust of the

 flesh, and the lust of the eye, and the pride of life, are not of the

Father, but are of the world” (I John 2:15-17).  And God’s people are

not of the world; they are sojourners and strangers in it for a little time; they

must not imitate its modes of thought and life; they must live as citizens of

the heavenly country.


  • The Necessity of the Exhortation.


Ø      For the Salvation of the Soul. Fleshly lusts are not only beneath the

dignity of God’s peculiar people; they are full of danger, for they war

against the soul; they are, as it were, the dark hosts of the evil one

sent to wage a deadly warfare against the souls of men. IT IS


was first breathed into man by God; the soul for which the Lord Jesus


apparent gain can compensate for that tremendous loss.


Ø      For the Glory of God. If the inward life be pure, the outward life will be

blameless. If fleshly lusts are indulged in the heart, they will appear

somewhere or other in the life. The outward life cannot be uniformly fair

and seemly unless the heart is pure. But the Christian must for the glory

 of God let his light shine before men. Unbelievers will narrowly scan

the lives of Christians; they will watch for any little inconsistencies, and

magnify them, and turn them to the dishonor of their religion. The Gentiles

spoke against the Christians of the ancient Church; they caricatured their

sacraments, their worship; they accused them of atheism, of exciting

seditions. Still the lives of Christians are watched. Therefore they should

have their “conversation honest among the Gentiles” (v.12), that is,

their life should be fair and beautiful; and as the “beauty of a Christian’s

life consists in symmetry and conformity to the Word of God as its

rule, he ought diligently to study that rule, and to square his ways

 by it; not to walk at random, but to apply this rule to every step at home

and abroad, and to be as careful to keep the beauty of his ways unspotted,

as those women are of their faces and attire who are most studious of

comeliness. And their object in all this should be the greater glory

 of God. We are bidden not to seek the praise of men; we might take

no heed to their blame, to calumny and misrepresentation, were it not

that we must care for the souls of the slanderers, and for the glory of

God. For those ends Christians must try to exhibit the beauty of holiness

in their outward lives, that men may see their good works, and glorify

their Father which is in heaven (Matthew 5:16).  It is from Him that

all holiness comes; all spiritual beauty is His gift. Men will see it in the lives

of true Christians; they will feel its reality, its true loveliness; they know

that such beauty is not of the earth; they may by God’s grace be led to

recognize it as coming from God, and to glorify Him by seeking

themselves to imitate the holy lives of Christians, that they too, in the

day of visitation, may be ready to attend the heavenly Bridegroom

in the wedding garments of holiness.




  • The Extent of that Obedience. “The powers that be are ordained

of God”  (Romans 13:1); “The Most High giveth the kingdoms of the

earth to whom He will” (Daniel 4:17,25, 32);  “By Him kings reign,

and princes decree justice” (Proverbs 8:15).  Therefore the Christian

must be loyal to the government under which God’s providence has

placed him. One form of government may be better than another; but any

regular government is better than anarchy. Paul bids us pray “for kings,

 and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and

 peaceable life” (I Timothy 2:1-2).  Government is from God; the form

of it is determined, under God’s overruling providence, by man. Peter

bids us obey every ordinance of man, every human creation — all rulers,

whether the sovereign or those who are set in authority under him; and

that because orderly government is necessary for the well-being and

the very existence of society, “for the punishment of evil-doers,

 and for the praise of them that do well” (v.14).  On the whole,

the strong rule of Rome had worked for the good of mankind, for

the peace and order of that vast empire. Roman governors and officers,

like Festus and Gallio and Claudius Lysias, had been on the side of right

against the violence of Jewish mobs; even Felix and Pilate showed some

traces of the Roman sense of justice. Nero, the reigning emperor, indeed,

was a monster of vice; he had treated the Christians of Rome with atrocious

cruelty; the persecution would soon spread into the provinces. But hitherto

the Roman authorities had generally protected the infant Church. The

institutions of civil government work for the good of society; Christians

must be loyal and peaceable citizens.


  • The Ground and Limits of that Obedience. It should be “for the Lord’s

sake” (v. 13).  His providence has set us where we are; we must not rebel

against His will. He ruleth all things both in heaven and in earth, and he will

make all things work together for the eternal good of His chosen (Romans

8:28).  It is enough for us; our duty, like Christ, is to say, “Thy will be done”

(Matthew 26:39; Mark 14:36; Luke 22:42), and for His sake, in the

consciousness that, in obeying those who are set over us, we are obeying

the King of kings, to submit ourselves to every human ordinance. But that

obedience is for His sake; therefore it cannot extend to unlawful

 commands.  Peter himself had once said to the high priest, “We ought to

 obey God rather than man” (Acts 5:29; comp. also Ibid.4:19); and the

time was coming when brave Christian men and women would have to

choose between renouncing Christ and the death of martyrdom. (It is not

without question that Christians today might have to face the same choice!

CY – 2012).  The disobedience would be “for the Lord’s sake.” The

higher duty would overrule the lower. To “fear God and to keep His

commandments is the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13);

this highest rule will guide the Christian under ordinary circumstances to

obey human law and government, sometimes under exceptional

circumstances to obey God rather than man. As a rule, Christians must be

subject to the higher powers. Indeed, they are free; Christ hath made them

free from the yoke of bondage. But they are the servants of God; His will

should be the law of their lives; and His will is that Christian liberty should

be orderly and sober. The soul is free from the bondage of sin; the

outward life should be regulated by obedience to authority and law;

and that for the glory of God, that the well-ordered lives of Christian

people may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.


  • Four Rules for the Guidance of Christians in Social Life.  (v.17)


Ø      “Honor all men.” The apostle has just enjoined a dutiful submission

to kings and magistrates. He extends his precept; all men are to be

treated with honor.  Paul had said, “Render therefore to all their

dues;… honor to whom honor is due” (Romans 13:7). Though we

owe not the same measure of honor to every one, yet in some sense

honor is due to all men; for all men are God’s creatures, made

originally in THE LIKENESS OF GOD!   The Jews would not

tread on any chance piece of paper, lest, they said, the name of God

might be written on it. So the Christian may not despise any one,

however base in his outward condition, in body, or in mind, or even

however much fallen from God and goodness.  The name of God may

be written on that soul; low in all earthly things, it maybe high in grace;

the Lord Jesus died for that poor fallen soul; it may be restored

and won back and forgiven like the sinful woman who washed the

Lord’s feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head

(Luke 7:38-50).  Therefore the Christian must treat all men with

consideration and respect; scorn and contempt are utterly out

of place in the disciples of the lowly Savior.          


Ø      “Love the brotherhood.” Christians are not only brethren, but a

brotherhood, one body in Christ; they are knit together by the one

Spirit into one communion and fellowship; they must regard

one another with fraternal affection. The nearer they draw to Christ,

who loved them and gave Himself for them, the more fully will they

learn of Him this high and holy lesson of Christian love.


Ø      “Fear God.” This great principle must guide the Christian in ALL

THE RELATIONS OF LIFE!   “Behold, the fear of the Lord,

that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.”

(Job 28:28).  He who has the fear of God before his eyes will do his

duty towards his neighbor; for to fear and to obey God, the preacher

says, is “the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13) — it covers

the whole sphere of his life and conduct. Other rules are

subordinate to this central rule. We must honor all men, because all

men are the creatures of God; we must honor most those in whom the

image of God is best reflected. We must love the brotherhood, but

 so that we love God first above all. We must honor the king,

because all power is of God.


Ø      “Honor the king.” That king was Nero. It was hard to honor such a

one, a monster stained with every infamy. But Christians were to see

in him the representative of law and order, and they were to respect his

authority while they could not but loathe his crimes.



SAVIOUR IN ALL THINGS (Titus 2:10),  seeking always THE GLORY OF



18 “Servants,” - The word is not δοῦλοιdouloi -  slaves - but οἰκέται

oiketai - household servants, domestics.  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 (compare I Corinthians 7:21-23; Ephesians 6:5-8;

Colossians 3:22; I Timothy 6:1-2). 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 ὑποτασσόμενοιhupotassomenoibe subject -  seems to look

back to the imperative ὑποτάγητεhupotagaetesubmit yourselves) in v. 13;

the relation of slaves to their lords being one of the ordinances of man alluded to

there (compare Ephesians 6:5, where 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 - skolioi

literally, “crooked, perverse”), still they must be submissive to the wilt of God.



19 “For this is thankworthy,” -  literally, this is grace (compare Luke 6:32,

Ποία ὑμῖν χάρις ἐστί - Poia humin charis estin - What thank have ye? –

where the parallel passage in Matthew 5:46 is Τίνα μισθὸν ἔχετε – Tina misthon

echete -   What reward have ye? A comparison of these passages seems to show

that χάριςcharisgrace; thank -  and μισθόςmisthosreward -  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 (compare I Corinthians 8:7,

where “conscience of the idol” seems to mean a belief or half-belief in the real

existence of the god supposed to be represented by the idol) - “endure grief,

suffering wrongfully.” Literally, griefs, λύπαςlupasgrief; pain of body

or mind - (compare λυπηθέντεςlupaethentesheaviness; being sorrowed –

ch.1:6). Peter echoes our Lord’s teaching in the sermon on the mount (Matthew



20 “For what glory is it,” -  The word translated “glory” (kle>ov kleos

rumor, report; then fame, renown hence reputation), common in Greek poetry,

occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. - “if, when ye be  buffeted for your

faults, ye shall take it patiently?” - literally, if sinning and being buffeted. The

word translated “buffeted” (κολαφιζόμενοιkolaphizomenoito strike

with clenched hands or fists), used in Matthew 26:67 and Mark 14:65 in

describing our Savior’s sufferings, has a figurative meaning in I Corinthians 4:11;

II Corinthians 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

 touto gar – this for), with some of the best manuscripts, we must supply

“there is glory” after the last clause. “If, doing well and suffering, ye take it

patiently, There is glory (κλέος kleosglory; credit; renown), for this is

thankworthy (χάριςcharisgrace; thanks; gratitude; acceptable) 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 (Acts 5:41; 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 v. 19, where see



21 “For even hereunto were ye called:”- that is, to do good and to

suffer patiently (compare I Thessalonians 3:3). Omit “even,” for which

there is no authority.  Peter is speaking of slaves, but what he says of

slaves is true in some sense of all Christians (compare Acts 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, 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 (ὑολιμπάνωνhuolimpanonleaving

 behind ).  The Greek for “example” is ὑπογραμμός hupogrammos -  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.  The life of

Christ is our model. In particular 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 -  epakolouthaesaeteye should

follow - means (compare Mark 16:20; I Timothy 5:10, 24).  The word employed

has the force of “follow closely.” We are to take Christ for our Guide, as men

walking across a glacier might do by their guide, stepping in the prints of his

footsteps, and keeping very near him.  UNLESS THE SUFFERINGS OF




22 “Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:”  Peter is quoting

the Septuagint Version of Isaiah 53:9, almost exactly, the word ἁμαρτίαν

hamartian -  sin, being substituted for ἀνομίανanomian -  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 52:13).  Slaves were often tempted to deceit

and guile; they must look to the Lord Jesus, and strive to copy His

innocence and His truth.


23 “Who, when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, He

threatened not;” -   (compare Isaiah 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


CONCERN (Matthew 23:27) -  “but committed Himself to Him that judgeth

righteously:”  The verb “committed”-  παρεδίδουparedidou) is without an

object in the original. Most commentators supply “Himself,” or “His cause;”

others, “His sufferings;” some, “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, they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).  Compare by

contrast the language of Jeremiah, speaking in the spirit of the Old Testament

(Jeremiah 11:20 and 20:12).


24 “Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree,” - 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 huper humonfor us -  in v. 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 - anti - of Matthew 20:28 -“for many”; ; Mark 10:45 – for many;

 I Timothy 2:6 – for a ransom - , in which last passage both propositions are

combined ἀντίλυτρον ὑπέρ antilutron hupera ransom for.  The Lord

died, not only in our behalf, BUT IN OUR STEAD!   He gave “His life a

ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:45);  “He is the Propitiation for

 our sins” (Romans 3:25; I John 2:2; 4:10).  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

(Hebrews 1:3);  none other could bear that awful burden. He bare

 (ἀνήνεγκενanaenegkenbare, carried up). The apostle is evidently quoting

Isaiah 53:12, where the Hebrew verb is נָשָׂא and the Septuagint Version is

Καὶ αὐτὸς ἁμαρτίας πολλῶν ἀνήνεγκε; – Kai autos hamartias pollon anaenegtke-

because He carried the sins of many;  compare vs. 4 and 11 (in v.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

Leviticus 5:1,17, and many similar passages). In the description of the ceremonial of 

the Day of Atonement in Leviticus 16:22,  it is said that the scapegoat “shall bear

upon him [the Hebrew is  וְנָשָׂא הַשָּׂעִיר עָלָיו; the Greek is λήψεταιχίμαρος ἐφ ἑαυτῷ]

- laepsetai ho chimaros eph eautothe goat shall carry all] 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 John the Baptist, “Behold the LAMB OF GOD which taketh away the

SIN OF THE WORLD”  (John 1:29)  where the Greek (αἴρων - ho airon

Taketh away; one lifting; bear) may be rendered with equal exactness, “who

beareth,” or “who taketh away.” The Lord took our sins away by BY

TAKING THEM UPON HIMSELF!   (compare Matthew 8:17). As Aaron

put the sins of the people upon the head of the scapegoat (Leviticus 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 (Luke 22:44).  He bare them on

to the tree (ἐπὶ τὸ ξύλονepi to xulon – on the tree; wood; pole); He carried

them thither, and there He expiated them (compare Hebrews 9:28, “Christ was

once offered to bear the sins of many,” where the same Greek word is used —

ἀνενεγκεῖνanenegkein – to bear the sins). Another interpretation takes

ἀναφέρειν anaphereinto offer up - in its sacrificial sense, as in Hebrews

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 anaphereinto offer up -  here rather

of victim than of priest, as in Hebrews 9:28 and the Greek Version of Isaiah 53:12.

The thought of sacrifice was doubtless present to the apostle’s mind, as it certainly

was to the prophet’s (see Isaiah 53:10). The word ξύλον is used for the cross

twice in Peter’s speeches in the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 5:30; 10:39). It is

also so used by Paul (Galatians 3:13). “that we, being dead to sins, should live

unto righteousness:” -  The Greek word ἀπογενόμενοι apogenomenoi

 past participle of a compound of ajpo> and gi>nomai;  absent, i.e. deceased;

 being dead; occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. 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 (compare Romans 6:2,11; Galatians 2:19-20).  Righteousness here is

simply the opposite of sin — obedience, submission to the will of God -

“by whose stripes ye were healed.”   The apostle is quoting the Septuagint

rendering of Isaiah 53:5. The Greek μώλωψmolopsa bruise; a wound

from a stripe - means the mark or weal left on the flesh by a scourge. 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 (Matthew 27:26; Mark 15:15; Luke 23:16; John 19:1).  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.


25 “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” (Matthew

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, ἐπεστράφηνepestraphaenreturned; ye turned back.

Christ is the Shepherd of our souls. The quotation from Isaiah doubtless

brought before Peter’s thoughts the sweet and holy allegory of the good Shepherd,

which he had heard from the Savior’s lips (John 10:1-18; compare also Isaiah 40:11;

Ezekiel 34:23; 37:24; also Psalm 22.). The word “bishop” (ἐπίσκοποςepiskopos

bishop; overseer) is used in a similar connection in Acts 20:28, “Take heed… to all

 the flock over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers” –

 (ἐπισκόπους - episkopous overseers); compare also Ezekiel 34:11,

“I will both search my sheep, and seek them out,” where the Greek word for

“seek them out” is ἐπισκέψομαιepiskepsomai.   The Lord Jesus Christ


OVERSEER of those souls which He has bought to be His own with

His most precious blood.



A Special Address to Servants (vs. 18-25)




Ø      Submission to their Masters. Religion touches every condition of life;

none is left out. And none may make the circumstances of their life

 an excuse for NEGLECTING RELIGION.  God set them where

they are; their station, their circumstances, are such as He was pleased

to appoint. He “will have all men to be saved, and to come unto

the knowledge of the truth” (I Timothy 2:4).  Therefore we may be

sure all men may be saved, whatever may be their outward

circumstances. It is for them to do their duty to God and to man in

 that station to which God has been pleased to call them. There

are many compensations in life; riches have their cares; high rank has

its responsibilities. Men must not fret and chafe against the toils and

privations of their lot; they must do their duty in it, and they wilt find

peace and inward satisfaction. “Brethren,” says Paul, speaking to

slaves (I Corinthians 7:24), “let every man, wherein he is called,

 therein abide with God.” God has a message for servants. Their

lot was very hard under the stern rule of slavery, when even men of

wide views like Aristotle regarded slaves as “living tools.” But

Christian slaves were to take comfort; they were THE LORD’S

FREEDMEN.  (Ibid. v.22); they were, equally with the highest in

rank, living stones in the Lord’s spiritual temple; they might gain

for themselves a high place there by the quiet, faithful discharge of the

humblest duties. Then let them serve their masters with all respect and

reverence; and that, not simply out of gratitude, if they happened to

have kind and indulgent masters, but out of submission to the

holy will of God, whatever might be the character of those under whom

they were placed. There is a lesson here for all who occupy subordinate

positions of any sort — let them pay proper reverence and obedience to

their superiors. It is their duty, not only to those superiors, but to God.


Ø      The motive of that submission. Consciousness of God. This high

motive dignifies the humblest position in life, and makes the respect and

submission which Christian servants yield to their masters, or Christians

in any condition to their superiors, a beautiful and holy thing. They

recognize the great truth of the presence of God; they try to live in the

habitual consciousness of THAT PRESENCE,  they try to think of

God all the day long, in all the little details of their daily occupations,

and to perform each duty, great or small, as unto the Lord (Colossians

3:23).  Thus Christians in the humblest positions may “adorn the

doctrine of God our Savior in all things” (Titus 2:10).  These

words of Paul were spoken of Christian slaves. Slaves might

adorn the Church of God, and bring honor to Christ. Through the grace

of God, the last are often FIRST,  the lowest in this world



Ø      The reward of that submission. It is thankworthy; it is acceptable

with God. The master might be much beneath his slave; the superior

may be much beneath his official inferiors in all that constitutes true

greatness; it has often been so, it must be so sometimes still. The

Christian, in whatsoever state he is, must be content; if he has to suffer

wrong, injustice, cruelty, he must take it patiently. To submit to deserved

punishment, to own our fault, and to accept the consequence, is hard to

our proud, selfish nature; yet it is but a plain duty; it merits no praise

(v.20, ch.5:15).  But when Christians submit to undeserved suffering;

when in the ancient times they endured stripes and the prison and the

death of martyrdom; when now Christian men, or women, or children

endure persecution, sometimes very hard to bear, from those in various

ways above them, or, it may be, from fellow-servants or school-fellows;

when they take it patiently in the consciousness of God’s presence, this

is the work of God’s grace; this is lovely in the sight of God; and the

Scripture saith in God’s great condescension, this is thankworthy with

God (v.19).




Ø      Christians are called to imitate Christ. Christians are called to

suffering; the cross is the badge of their profession; without the cross

they cannot be disciples of the crucified Lord. This was the meaning

of your calling, Peter says; you knew it when you became Christians;

you must not forget it in the hour of trial. Christ suffered for you, yes,

for you slaves; He left behind Him, when He ascended into heaven,

an example for you to imitate, a sketch for you to fill up in detail.

Try by the grace of God the Holy Spirit to renew the likeness of God in

your hearts; look to THE LORD JESUS CHRIST AS YOUR

MODEL,  copy one by one the features of that DIVINE

LOVELINESS,  fill up the portrait, little by little, touch by touch,

looking with fixed attention on the great Original. And, to change the

figure, follow Him; He goeth before you (v. 21).  Climb the steep ascent

of heaven, stepping in the very footprints of the Divine Guide,

(The way to do it is to step in His steps like I remember doing in

my father’s steps, in 1950 – I remember the time and the place –

ours should be, like Enoch – A LIFETIME WALK – Genesis 5:24 –

CY – 2012) -  JESUS WILL LEAD YOU SAFELY!   But there

is only one way — the way which He trod Himself, the royal way of

the most holy cross.


Ø      The innocence of Christ. He did not sin, yet He suffered. We

have sinned, yet we murmur under our chastisements. We fret and

complain all the louder, if we think that our afflictions are not the

direct result of sin; all the more if we think that they are wrongfully

inflicted. We fancy that there are none so hardly dealt with, none so

unjustly treated; we magnify our distress; we will not be comforted;

we refuse to see any alleviation, any ray of light, any evidences of

mercy. But we should think of our sins, our unworthiness, our need

of chastisement for our profit in holiness. Above all, we should think

of THE INNOCENT SAVIOUR!   “He did no sin, neither was

guile found in his mouth” (v. 22).  We have sinned in thought,

word, and deed; let us not complain.


Ø      The patience of Christ. He was buffeted and spat upon and cruelly

mocked, yet He opened not His mouth; He was scourged, He was nailed

to the cross; He suffered through all those six hours the intensest agony;

He threatened not, He did not call for the twelve legions of angels

(Matthew 26:53).  He committed all, Himself, His cause, His torturers,

to Him that judgeth righteously — HE LEFT ALL TO GOD!

 He is our high Example. We should learn of Him; we should pray

for those who despitefully use us: “Father, forgive them.” Here is

the Christian’s comfort when he is unjustly treated.  God judgeth

righteously; He knoweth them that are His; He knows their

prayers, their self-denials, their temptations. If the world judge them

harshly, it matters little; God judgeth righteously; they leave all to

Him. And when men speak evil of them, when they impute unworthy

motives and accuse them falsely, they think of Christ mocked, reviled,

blasphemed, and try to learn of Him meekness and patience.


Ø      How Christians are enabled to follow that example. CHRIST

IS OUR EXAMPLE, but He is more — He is the Propitiation for

our sins (Romans 3:25; I John 2:2; 4:10).  It would be vain to set

before us miserable sinners an example of perfect holiness, were

it not that He bare our sins in His own body on to the tree (BY

HIMSELF – Hebrews 1:3). None other than the holy Son

of God could bear that awful burden. The Lord “laid on

Him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6).  He bare that

tremendous load of human sin in His own body on to the

tree, and there He took our sins away, dying, as He did,


PUNISHMENT!  Men think sin a light matter; true

Christians know that it is a heavy burden, too heavy for them

to bear. It was a heavy burden to Christ; it made Him sweat

those great drops of blood (Luke 22:44); it made Him cry,

“My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Mark

15:34) – HE ONLY could bear that tremendous load.

The Lord laid it on Him (Isaiah 53:6);  He took it on Himself

in His gracious mercy. He came to give His life a ransom for

many(Matthew 20:28); He was made sin for us, though He

was WITHOUT SIN (II Corinthians 5:21) and “SEPARATE

FROM SINNERS (Hebrews 7:26; the Lord made His soul an

offering for sin (Isaiah 53:10).  And the end of that stupendous

sacrifice was that we, being dead to sin, should be enabled to copy

that Divine Example, and should live unto righteousness.

Such an event as the death of the Son of God must involve great

and far-reaching consequences; it requires of us, for whom He died,

not merely an outward change, not some slight improvement in our

lives, BUT A DEATH UNTO SIN!   When we look upon the

cross, and think who it was that suffered there for us, we see the

intense guilt of sin, we see the great love of God; and we draw from

the death of Christ a hidden source of strength which helps us to crush

sin out of our hearts, though the effort be like a death-struggle and the

agony like a death-pang; for by His death He broke the power of Satan,

giving Himself in His deep holy love to suffer our punishment and to take

away our sins.  Therefore we must be unto sin as though we were not,

as though we had departed, as though the sinful “I” was gone, and

Christ was there instead: “Not I, but Christ”(Galatians 2:20);  

“To me to live is Christ” (Philippians 1:21);  he who knows the

meaning of those words is dying unto sin. As he dies unto sin, he lives

unto righteousness; a new life dawns into his soul, new aspirations, new

emotions. He is full of the energy of a vigorous life; but it is not the old

life — that is gone; it is a new life which only they can know who die

with Christ unto sin. It is His death which gives them life; His stripes

heal their souls (Isaiah 53:5).  They tortured and lacerated His holy

body, but they heal the sickness of our souls; for it was for our sins

that He submitted to that dreadful outrage. Each blow shows us

the guilt and misery of sin; each drop of blood most precious cleanses

the souls that turn to Him in faith. He has borne our punishment, and

we are free if we are His indeed, He abiding in us and we in Him

(John 17:21-23).  Let us contemplate His sufferings with awe and

Reverence and gratitude, mourning for those sins of ours which added

to His agony, killing them out of our hearts by the power of His death;

thanking Him in adoring love for His exceeding great love; bearing our

little griefs patiently and cheerfully in the remembrance of His bitter cross

and passion.


Ø      What they were; what they are now. “All we like sheep have gone

astray” (Isaiah 53:6).  ALL HAVE WANDERED FROM GOD,

 some in one direction, some in another, each turning to his own

way.  Sin is a divider which drives us apart from God INTO THE


 We flatter ourselves, in our folly, that we have not sinned like

this or that neighbor. It may be so; his temptation was not our temptation;

but our sin may be greater in the sight of God. All without exception have

gone astray. But the Lord came in His mercy to seek and to save that

which was lost. Happy those lost ones whom He has found, who, drawn

by His grace, have returned to the Shepherd and Bishop of their souls!

(v. 25)  - For He is the good Shepherd; He knows His sheep, and cares

for them; and those sheep that have returned to Him shall never perish,

 none can pluck them out of His hand (John 10:28).  He is the

Bishop, the Overseer, of our souls. He thinks of all our spiritual wants,

our temptations, our distresses. He watches for our souls; He provides

for our present necessities, for He feeds us with the sincere milk of the

Word, with the bread of life; for our future welfare, for He is gone to

prepare a place for us in heaven.  (John 14:1-3)


Christ gives us power to die unto sin and to live unto righteousness. We can

do all things (if we abide in Him) through Him that strengtheneth us. 

(Philippians 4:13)



The Purpose of the Savior’s Sufferings (vs. 21-24)


One thing must be observed and admired in the religious life and the

religious teaching of the inspired apostles — everything they did and

everything they said led their minds to the Lord Jesus. If Christ be the Son

of God and the Savior of mankind, this is not to be wondered at. He is not

only the central figure of human history; he is at the core of each

Christian’s heart, at the spring of each Christian’s life. The Christianity

which is apart from men’s thinking and duty and interest has no likeness to

the Christianity of the apostles. Every subject they treated was, in their

view, related to the Lord Jesus. Especially did they look at every

relationship of society, and every duty of man, in the light of Christ’s

Deity, Christ’s humanity, Christ’s cross! It was natural to them to think

thus. Their hearts were full of Christ, and whatever path of inquiry,

instruction, or action they took, it was sure to lead them to him. And this

was not vain enthusiasm; it was most reasonable and right. We, too, cannot

see things as they are in God’s sight, we cannot act as he would have us,

unless we connect all our experience and all our duty with him who has

brought God to us, who has brought us to God. Peter was a very practical

man. When he wrote his Epistle, he wrote it to actual living men and

women. God be praised that we are taught our doctrines, not in theological

treatises, but in letters which were the outpouring of soul to soul. Certain

superfine religionists think the real occupations and relations of life as

something quite beneath their notice. So did not the apostle. For instance,

he knew that some of the Christian people who would read his letter were

slaves; and accordingly he wrote to them as to slaves. There is no doubt

that Christianity introduced among mankind principles which first

ameliorated, and then abolished, slavery. But Peter had to deal with facts

as they were. Christianity was to help men, not only to rise above slavery,

but — whilst slavery still endured as an institution — to make the best of

it. So Peter told these slaves that there was a work for them to do, a

witness for them to offer, whilst they were still slaves. He bade them

remember how their Master Christ, who was at the same time their

Redeemer, had borne himself amidst injustice, false accusation, contumely,

and suffering. And he brought to bear the willing sacrifice of Christ for

them upon their hearts, as a Divine motive to endurance and patience. They

were not so ill treated as their great Savior had been; and, whilst he was

perfectly innocent and good, they were not free from human infirmities. It

was certainly their duty to display the spirit of their Lord, to do what he

had done, to endure as he had endured. Thus they should honor him. Thus

they should be in the way of reaping some wholesome fruit of blessing for

themselves. Thus they should win others to the faith which none could help

admiring. And thus they should secure for themselves a sure recompense of




Founder of our faith should suffer is itself an astonishing and

instructive fact. Suffering and shame, submission to violence and cruelty,

these are not usually associated with power and victory. Yet the Author

of the religion which has the greatest influence over mankind, and is

molding the history of the world, was pre-eminently A SUFFERER!

 We believe that this was foretold. It cannot be questioned that the first

 Christian preachers and writer’s proclaimed, without any reserve, the

humiliation and the woe of their great Lord. They even gloried in the

cross. Peter was, perhaps better than any man, able to witness to the

sufferings and to the demeanor of Jesus Christ. He was “with Him in

the garden;” and although he fell asleep, yet, on waking, he saw on his

Master’s brow the “bloody sweat,” and read upon his Master’s features

the agony of soul through which He had passed, with no human sympathy,

with none to share His awful watch. Peter was there when Judas betrayed

the Lord with a kiss, and beheld the meekness with which He yielded

Himself into the hands of His foes. It was Peter who drew the sword in

defense of his Master (Matthew 26:51-54; John 18:10-11), and who heard

that Master’s rebuke, and His language of pathetic resignation, “The cup

which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?” The same Peter

followed Jesus into the judgment-hall, and saw the Lord whom he loved

bound and reviled, and witnessed His meekness under insult and injustice.

Upon Himself Jesus had turned the glance of affectionate reproach, which

smote him to the heart, and opened the fountain of his tears (Luke

22:61-62).  It was Peter who entered the empty grave of the risen Immanuel.

It was Peter who, when forgiven his faithlessness and fear, was assured by

the Lord of a share in the humiliation and agony of the cross. Who, then, so

fit as Simon Peter — both by his opportunities of observing the Lord’s

sorrow and anguish, and by his warm and tender love for Christ — to

speak of the Redeemer’s woes, and to testify of His bearing and His spirit,

when He “endured the contradiction of sinners against himself”? 

(Hebrews 12:3)  The witness of this companion and friend of Christ Jesus

is that He suffered. That our Lord endured weariness, hunger, and thirst;

that acutest pain was suffered by Him in the closing hours of His life; —

this the whole record abundantly proves. And His mental sufferings

were made evident by the tears He shed, the sighs He heaved, the

groans and cries He uttered (Hebrews 5:7).  His soul was “exceeding

sorrowful, even unto death” (Mark 14:34);  it was “troubled.”  Keenly

susceptible to human emotions, He was distressed at His rejection by

His countrymen, at His desertion by His friends, at His betrayal by one

disciple, His denial by another. A yet further and a more mysterious

woe was that which He endured when He bare the burden of the sins

and sorrows of mankind, and “tasted death for every man.”  (Hebrews

2:9).  As the Son of man, the Head and Representative of the race whose

nature He assumed, Christ Jesus shared our lot in more than all its grief

and anguish. Great stress is laid upon the fact that Jesus was reviled. It

was woe enough, so it might be thought, to suffer in our stead; but

what shall be said of the endurance of the taunts and mockery of those

for whom He came to die, whom He came to save? This was the bitterest

earthly ingredient in the bitter cup which Jesus drank. Now, all these

sufferings were undeserved. The apostle observes upon Christ’s innocence.

He “did no sin.” With a reference to Isaiah’s prediction, he boldly proclaims

his Master’s guilelessness. Whatever afflictions befall us in this life, candor

constrains us to admit that we deserve all, and more than all, that we

endure. If they are punishment, the strokes inflicted are lighter than the

guilt they chasten. But nothing of this kind can be said of our Savior’s

pains. His very enemies could substantiate no charge against Him, and in

this their testimony supports the assertions of His friends. And Paul says,

“He knew no sin” (II Corinthians 5:21).  “In Him is no sin,” says John

(I John 3:5).  And Peter’s witness is in the text, “He did no sin.” To

complete the picture, we must observe the demeanor of our Savior when

enduring these afflictions. Men too often complain and murmur, whilst some

rebel against the trials appointed for them. No one here is perfected in

patience.  But we are well reminded of THE MEEKNESS AND 

PATIENCE OF CHRIST!   He endured more than we are ever called

upon to suffer, yet He uttered no word of impatience. He endured His

sufferings at the hands of injustice, and was cruelly and unpardonably

wronged; yet He had only submission — no resentment — to return to

His injurers, and a prayer to offer for their forgiveness. “He was reviled,

but He reviled not again” (v.23).  The impenitent malefactor by His side

joined in the jeers of the rulers and the people around the cross (Luke 23:39).

But Jesus held His peace. When His sufferings were acute, He gave way to

no impulse of revenge against His persecutors. Although He might have

come down from the cross, or have summoned legions of angels to His

rescue, “He threatened not.” He was content that the will of God should

be done. Men might judge unjustly.  God is He who judgeth righteously.

To Him, accordingly, the Lord Jesus committed all — Himself and His

cause. What a picture is this of superhuman self-forgetfulness and self-

sacrifice! As we contemplate the sinless Sufferer, first in the garden, then

before His judges, and finally upon the cross, we are constrained to

acknowledge with the centurion, “Certainly this was a righteous man!”

(Luke 23:47) – “Truly this was the Son of God!”  (Matthew 27:54).

The scene surpasses all that man has invented. The character

exhibited is one beyond the attainment of human virtue. We cannot

wonder that the name of Jesus has become, and must ever remain, the

symbol of love and meekness, patience and long-suffering, submission

and self-restraint and self-denial.


  • THE PURPOSE OF CHRIST’S SUFFERING for which our Savior

thus suffered. It was for us” — for our advantage, on our behalf. It was

certainly not for His own sake. Jesus neither deserved to suffer, for He

was faultless and blameless (ch. 19; Exodus 12:5);  nor did He stand in

need, as we do, of the discipline of affliction, for there was no dross to

purge away, and no gain could accrue to the pure gold by its being cast into

the furnace. The end for which our blessed Redeemer consented to

endure the humiliations of His life and the agonies of His death was no

personal end; He suffered “FOR OUR SAKE!”  There were two distinct

and yet closely related purposes which the Savior had before Him in His

sufferings.  Both are stated in this passage very explicitly. There are some

minds that look only at the one of these purposes; there are different minds

that regard only the other. But the sober and attentive student of Scripture

cannot fail to recognize the necessity of both, and their harmony with each

other.  Christ’s endurance of sufferings, being exemplary, furnishes us with

THE MODEL of our patience and submission; and the same endurance of

sufferings, being sacrificial and substitutionary, supply us with our highest

motive. That Christ is an Example for our imitation is not only taught in

Scripture; it is a truth seized upon by every Christian whose Christianity is

not merely nominal — who is by the Holy Spirit awakened to spiritual life.

When he said, “Learn of me” (Matthew 11:29),  “Follow me,” (Ibid.

ch. 9:9).  Jesus sanctioned this view of the religious endeavor and prayerful

aim of His disciples. And the apostles frequently admonish their converts to

imitate the conduct, to share and display the spirit, of the Divine

Leader and Lord. His obedience to the Father, His holy life, His benevolent

disposition, His self-denying labors, are all put before us as a model which

we are to study and to copy. In this passage the especial point selected for

imitation is the meekness and longsuffering of our Lord. This is represented

as a “copy” which He has left behind, that we may place it before our eyes,

and try to produce a good, correct, well-studied imitation of it. We are told to

follow in His steps; He is the Guide, to whom we entrust our way, in whose

wisdom we have confidence; where He treads it is for us to follow, placing

our feet in the footmarks He has left behind Him. By these two simple and

beautiful figures it is shown how we should lay to heart THE PERFECT

EXAMPLE OF OUR LORD and seek to make it ours.  Unfortunately,

often in our POP CULTURE (CY – 2012), we follow human examples,

so faulty and human characters so ignoble, that hero-worship (as it has

been called) is a very PERILOUS PROCEEDING!   The young

are more likely to emulate the questionable side of a great man’s

character, if that side be dazzling. Thankful should we be that our Creator,

who has implanted within us the principle of imitation, has made

provision for calling out that principle, and giving it full scope. The imitation

of Christ is the lifelong practice and discipline of every pupil and learner in the

spiritual school of God. The Divine Spirit must be the Teacher, revealing

and applying the lesson to the scholar’s heart, firing that heart with a

holy ambition to be conformed to the sacred likeness of the Lord.

(Romans 12:1-2).  But this is no such easy matter. Our gracious God and

Father, who knows our nature perfectly, knows that it would be vain to set

before men a perfect example of holiness and of patience, and then bid them

and leave them to aspire to conformity thereto. Hence the further purpose

of the Savior’s sufferings. We are happily familiar with the great and

precious truth, so strikingly exhibited in v.24, “who His own self bare our

 sins in His own body on the tree.” When Christ suffered as He did, it

was not simply as an illustration of the grace of patience. It was both:


Ø      to secure to us the pardon of our sins, and

Ø       to provide us with a motive of holiness, in the experience

of His sacrificial grace.


Without Himself becoming a sinner, He nevertheless took the sinner’s

place, entered into the case of the sinner, and took upon Him the

sinner’s  burden, dying the death of the cross — appropriate, indeed,

to the sinner, but only appropriate to the holy Christ as the sinner’s

REPRESENTATIVE AND SAVIOUR!   By “bearing our sins” we

are to understand a sacrificial, and therefore a redemptive, act. Whilst many

popular teachers are insisting that sin can never be forgiven, and that every

man must bear to the uttermost the consequences of his sins, the gospel

 comes with the good news of the remission of sins, and the favor of

God for those who receive the Christ as their Mediator and Redeemer,

in humility faith, and penitence.



It is not enough to tell that Jesus died, and died for us sinners. We need to show

what is the result of Christ’s sacrifice — that is, upon the heart and life of

Christians. For whilst it has a relation to God and His government, it has also

a relation — and one naturally more comprehensible by us — to our own

moral life and conduct. “That we, being dead to sins, should live unto

 righteousness” (v.24).  Now, you need not to be told that these poor

Galatian and Cappadocian bondmen must have been, before their conversion,

in a position very unfavorable for the formation of a just and pure character, for

living a blameless and benevolent life. They must have been alive to sin and

dead to righteousness, No power but that of the cross could be “the power

of God unto salvation” (Romans 1:16) to such men. And in this they were

 representatives of mankind. The gospel of Christ both kills and makes alive.

It slays the principle of sin; it quickens the principle of obedience to God.

Those who are pardoned and justified by the grace of God, and through faith in

that Christ who “loved us, and gave Himself for us” (Ephesians 5:2), are

brought under the power of new and spiritual motives — the motives of gratitude,

devotion, and love. Righteousness thus becomes the atmosphere the Christian

breathes, the element in which he lives. It is for Christ’s sake that he

aspires to participation in Christ’s character. And by fellowship with Christ

he grows into what his Lord would have him be. The two motives thus

coalesce. Believing in Jesus, the Christian comes to live, as a ransomed

being, a life of devotion to his Redeemer and Liberator. Honoring Jesus,

pondering His character, studying His will, he is “changed into the same

image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (II

Corinthians 3:18).  Thus is verified the exquisite and figurative language of

Peter, “By whose stripes ye were healed” (v.24).  He walked in darkness,

that you might walk in the light. He was vanquished, that you might conquer.

He suffered and stooped, that you might reign. He tasted the gall and the

wormwood of the crucified, that you might drink the wine of the kingdom

and share the banquet of the blessed. He entered the prison-house, that you

might go forth into glorious liberty. He died, that you might live. He gave

Himself up to the blows and stripes of the smiter that your wounds might be

healed, that you might come to spiritual strength and soundness. Christian

people! the practical lesson of the text is plain for you to read. Whether by

persecution, or by opposition and enmity, or by misunderstanding or calumny,

you must needs have something to bear in this world of probation and discipline.

Remember what this Apostle Peter says, “This is thankworthy, if a man for

conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully” (v.19). 

“If when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is

acceptable with God. For even hereunto were ye called” (v.20). When

distressed by the treatment you receive from wicked, unjust, or unreasonable

men, forget not this. Then is the time to prove the reality of your

religious principles. Flee to the mediation and sympathy of Christ.

Ponder the example, and cultivate the spirit of Christ. Act as a friend,

slave, of Christ. Revile not again. Commit yourselves to Him that judgeth

righteously (v.23).  Fret not yourselves because of evil-doers. (Psalm

37:1,7-8). Trust in the Lord. He shall bring out your righteousness

as the light, and your judgment as the noonday (Ibid. v.6).  Hearers

of the gospel! The principles of life now unfolded must appear to you the

noblest, the purest, and the best in the universe of God. Yet, as sinners,

you have not acted under the influence of those principles. Understand

that you are in need of the blessings of THAT REDEMPTION

WHICH JESUS WROUGHT in order that you may die unto sin,

and live unto righteousness. IT IS GOOD NEWS FOR YOU

THAT CHRIST DIED FOR YOU,  that the past of sin and anger and

hatred may be slain, and that yours may be THE NEW CREATION,





The Shepherd and Bishop of Souls (v. 25)


  • CHRIST THE SHEPHERD OF SOULS. It is needless to trace this

metaphor through the Old Testament, where it is employed to express the

relation of Jehovah to Israel. The most familiar of all the psalms shows us a

single devout soul appropriating the whole rest and blessedness of the thought

for the nourishment of the individual life of trust. Isaiah’s great prophecy of

the Servant of the Lord proclaims the coming of Jehovah to feed His flock

like a Shepherd (Isaiah 40:11).  Ezekiel brings out more plainly still that not

only Jehovah, but Jehovah’s “servant David,” is to be the Shepherd in a

golden future (Ezekiel 34:23-24).   Zechariah’s mysterious words add dark

shades to the picture, and set forth Jehovah’s Shepherd as smitten by

Jehovah’s appointment (Zechariah 13:7).  And all these foreshadowings are

interpreted and the scattered beams focused in the words which were as

vivid in Peter’s memory as when first spoken, and far better understood

than then: “I am the good Shepherd. The good Shepherd giveth His

 life for His sheep” (John 10:11).  It is remarkable that, with all this

prophecy and teaching from our Lord Himself, this text and Hebrews

13:20, are the only places where the name is applied to Him in the New

Testament, especially when we remember how early and how universally

the figure came to be employed in the succeeding periods. What aspects

of our Lord’s relation to us does it present? The ancient application

of the metaphor, not only in Israel, but in other lands, was to kings and rulers;

but we cannot confine the meaning thus. The twenty-third psalm and the tenth

chapter of John give far deeper and tenderer thoughts than rule. There are

mainly three ideas expressed:


Ø      The first is GUIDANCE.  The shepherd leads. When He puts

forth Hs sheep He goeth before them”  (John 10:4).  And under

that thought is included all the shaping of outward life, for Christ is

the Lord of providence, and the hands that were pierced for us

 hold the helm of the universe. But our text does not add,

“of souls,” without a deep meaning. It would have us see the

operation of our Shepherd’s care, not only nor chiefly in outward life.

And therefore we must think of His guidance as mainly His leading

of our souls in paths of righteousness, and “showing us that which

is good.” His recorded example, the touch of His hand on our wills,

the sweet constraint of His love, the wisdom which directs breathed

into the soul which lives in fellowship with Him, and has silenced the

loud voice of self that His voice may be heard, — these are the

Shepherd’s guidance of the sheep. His scepter is a simple shepherd’s

staff. He says, “COME AND FOLLOW ME” and His sheep

walk not in darkness, but have the light of life.  (John 8:12)


Ø      The second thought is GUARDIANSHIP.   David learned to

trust his Shepherd’s care over him in dangers by meditating on his

own hazarding his life against the “lion and the bear” (I Samuel

17:34-37).  Our Shepherd gives His life to drag us from the mouth

of the lion - “because your adversary the devil, as a roaring

lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (ch. 5:8).

 Body and soul are under His care. Himself may sometimes strike

a straying sheep with His merciful rod, but He will let no foe

 touch us, and our sorrows are tokens of His care, not of their

power.  If we keep within hearing of His voice, sin, which is our

only real enemy, will not harm us. Our docile submission is the

correlative of His guidance, and our trust should answer to His

defense. If He guard, let us press close to the shelter of His presence,

and ever look for the benediction of His eye.


Ø      The third thought is PROVISION.   He will not lead where we

must starve, but even in the most unpromising situations will show

His flock some scattered blades of grass which they may crop.

Their pastures shall be in all high places” (Isaiah 49:9), the very

bareness of the mountain-tops yielding food. He Himself is the Pasture

as well as the Shepherd of the soul, and ever gives Himself to satisfy

the hunger of the human heart, which needs a changeless and

perfect love, a personal truth, an all-commanding will to feed upon,

else it aches with hunger. And for outward wants these too He

remembers, and on the lowliest shore will kindle a fire of coals, and

himself prepare food for His servants (John 21:1-14).  So let us wait

on the Shepherd of our souls, assured that His sheep never ‘look

up, and are not fed.’”


  • CHRIST THE BISHOP OF OUR SOULS. Undoubtedly the allusion

here is to the bishop or elder of the early Church, with distinct reference to

the etymological meaning of the word as well as to the functions of the

officer.  Looking to the later development of these, and to the associations

which they have connected with the word, the marginal rendering of the

Revised Version (“overseer”) is perhaps better than “bishop.” How closely

the two ideas of “shepherd” and Church “overseer” are connected is clear

from Paul’s address to the elders at Ephesus (Acts 20:17-38), and from the

exhortations in this Epistle (ch.5:1, 7) to the elders to feed the flock, as

well as from the universal use of “pastor” as a synonym. What

aspects of Christ’s relation are thus presented?


Ø      We have the great truth that He is Himself the Source from which

All Church officers draw at once their authority and their faculty.

He gives all gifts to men, and sets them in His Church. If they forget that,

and use their offices for themselves, or fancy that they originate the gifts

which they but receive, they are usurpers. From Him are they all. To

Him should they all live and serve. There is but ONE AUTHORITY


delegates. There is but one Fountain; the others are cisterns.

“One is your Master, even Christ;  and all ye are brethren” 

(Matthew 23:8). 


Ø      The original meaning of the word is “OVERSEER” and that

suggests the vigilant inspection which He exercises over His Church.

The good Shepherd knows each sheep by name (John 10:3), and

His watchful eye is on every one of the flock. The title is the

condensation into one word of the solemn clause in the apocalyptic

vision of the Christ in the midst of the golden lamps, which tells how

“His eyes were as a flame of fire” (Revelation 1:14), and of the

sevenfold “I know thy works,” which heralds each message to the

Churches (Ibid. chapters 2-3). The thought has many sides, according

to the spiritual condition of each:


o       To Ephesus which has left its first love (Ibid. ch. 2:3),

o       To Smyrna, threatened with persecution and martyrdom,

it brings courage and the assurance of a crown of life

(Ibid. v.10).

o       to Sardis ready to die (Ibid. ch.3:2,

o       To Philadelphia, which has kept His Word, it seals the

joy of His approbation, which is reward indeed. (Ibid.

vs. 7-13)

o       to Laodicea sinking from lukewarmness to ice, it comes

monitory, rebuking and putting to shame, though even in

these the clear eye sees for the most part something to

commend (Ibid. vs.14-22),


So to us all, the thought that we walk ever in the light of His

countenance and are searched by the flame of those eyes may be a

gladness, as bringing the assurance of His perfect knowledge who

loves as He knows, and is guided by it in all His care for us and

gifts to us. “Search me, O Lord, and know my heart.”

(Psalm 139:23)


Ø      The thought that Christ discharges for each soul an office

 of which the eldersin the Church is a shadow, may also

be suggested. He teaches and He rules. All authority over and

all illumination in our souls are his. And that not merely through men,

nor only by the influence of His past life and death as recorded,

but by a present and continual operation on our spirits. We have

not only a Christ who lived and died, and so declared THE

FATHER, but a Christ who lives, and from HIS THRONE IN


 loving hearts. The present activity of Christ is plainly implied here.

Nor have we to think of Him as only helping and teaching the

collective body, but single souls. He is not here spoken of as the

Shepherd of the flock and the Overseer of the Church, blessed

as that truth is; but HE IS HELD FORTH AS SHEPHERD


He sustains these relations to the individual, and will draw near to

each of us, solitary and small, if we will only believe that by His

stripes we are healed, and, conquered by His dying love, turn

from our wanderings and couch trustful at His feet.


May we never be company to those who are guilty of “bad compliance” of





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