I Peter 5

 

1 “The elders which are among you I exhort,” - The Vatican and

Alexandrine Manuscripts omit the article, and insert “therefore” (the

Sinaitic gives both), reading, “Elders, therefore, among you I exhort.” The

solemn thoughts of the last chapter, the coming judgment, the approach of

persecution, the necessity of perseverance in well-doing, suggest the

exhortation; hence the “therefore.” The context shows that the apostle is

using the word “elder” (πρεσβύτερος – presbuteros - presbyter) in its

official sense, though its original meaning was also in his thoughts, as appears by

v. 5.  We first meet with the word in the Old Testament (Exodus 3:16, 18;

24:9; Numbers 11:16; Joshua 20:4, etc.). Used originally with

reference to age, it soon became a designation of office. Very early in the

history of the Christian Church we meet with the same title. It occurs first

in Acts 11:30. The Christians of Antioch make a collection for the poor

saints at Jerusalem, and send their alms by the hand of Barnabas and Saul

to the elders of the Jerusalem Church. We read several times of these

elders in Acts 15 as associated with the apostles in the consideration of the

great question of the circumcision of Gentile Christians; they joined with

James in the official reception of Paul at his last visit to Jerusalem

(Acts 21:18). It appears, then, that the Christian presbyterate originated

in the mother Church of Jerusalem. It was soon introduced into the

daughter Churches; the apostles Paul and Barnabas ordained elders in

every Church during the first missionary journey (Acts 14:23); and the

various notices scattered over the Acts of the Apostles and the Epistles

imply the early establishment of the office throughout the Church -  “who

am also an elder,” - ὁ συμπρεσβύτερος – ho sumpresbuteros – fellow-

elder - Peter, though holding the very highest rank in the Church as an apostle

of Christ, one of those who were to sit on twelve thrones judging the twelve

tribes of Israel (Matthew 19:28), claims no supremacy; he simply designates

himself as a brother presbyter. So also John (II John 1; III John 1). He exhorts

the presbyters as a brother, and grounds his exhortation on community of office -

 “and a witness of the sufferings of Christ,” -  This was his one

distinction above those whom he addresses. Like John, he declared

unto them that which he had heard, which he had seen with his eyes (I John

1:1). He had seen the Lord bound and delivered into the hands of wicked men;

probably he had watched his last sufferings among them which stood afar

off - “and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:”

The thought of the sufferings of Christ leads on to the thought of the future

glory (compare ch. 1:11; 4:13). Perhaps Peter was also thinking of the

Lord’s promise to himself, “Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now;

but thou shalt follow me afterwards” (John 13:36).  That glory at present

is partially hidden yet a Christian already possesses it. What wealth!

What dignity! How unspeakably richer than the mere millionaire, and more

honorable than the mere hero, is the true Christian worker!

 

Peter is a beautiful example of that humility which should especially mark those who

are called to high orifice in the Church, without which high office is a most dangerous

temptation. He assumes no superiority; he does not remind them of the great trust

committed to him by Christ (Matthew 16:18-19); he does not even insist on his

apostleship. He identifies himself with those whom he exhorts, calling

himself simply “a brother elder.” The word “elder” should remind them of

the dignity of their office. Most of them were probably elders in years as

well as in official position; but sometimes younger men, as in the case of

Timothy, would have special fitness for the work of the ministry. They

must take care to let none despise their youth (I Timothy 4:12); they

must exhibit in their lives something of that thoughtfulness, that sobriety,

that unworldliness, that sweet and holy wisdom, which the very name of

their office suggests as necessary qualifications for its fulfillment.

 

Peter was an eye-witness  “of the sufferings of Christ.”, at least in part, of the

sufferings of the Lord; he could say, like John, “that which we have seen and

heard, declare we unto you”  (I John 1:3).  If our exhortations are to have real

influence, they must come out of the depths of personal experiences; if we would

make Christ known to others, we must know Him ourselves; we must be made

conformable unto His death and know what is the fellowship of His sufferings

(Philippians 3:10), if we are to bear witness to others of the blessed meaning

of the cross.

 

“Who is God’s chosen priest?

He, who on Christ stands waiting day and night,

Who traced His holy steps, nor ever ceased,

From Jordan banks to Bethphage height:...

 

“Who both in agony

Hath seen Him and in glory; and in both

Owned Him Divine, and yielded, nothing loth,

Body and soul, to live and die,

 

“In witness of his Lord,

In humble following of his Savior dear!

This is the man to wield th’ unearthly sword,

Warring unharmed with sin and fear.”

 

Peter was “a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed and had the blessed

promise, “Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now; but thou shalt follow me

 afterwards”  (John 13:36).  Those who would teach and exhort like Peter, must

have Peter’s faith and hope; we must know, not with the cold knowledge which may

be gleaned from books, but with the warm, real knowledge of the heart, what is the

deep value of religion:

 

§         its preciousness,

§         the sweetness of its peace, and

§         the gladness of  its hope.

 

We must share that holy hope ourselves, if we are to kindle it in others; our words

must have that reality, that energy, which only a living hope can give.

 

2 “Feed the flock of God which is among you,” - rather, tend, as a

shepherd tends his flock. The verb ποιμάνατε – poimanate – shepherd

ye -  is aorist, as if Peter wished to concentrate into one point of view all the

labors of the ministerial life. He is echoing the word so solemnly addressed to

himself by the risen Lord, “Feed my sheep - ποίμαινε τὰ πρόβατά μου

poimaine ta probata mou.”  The word covers all the various duties of the

pastoral office.  Peter lays stress upon the solemn fact that the flock belongs to

God, not to the shepherds (compare Acts 20:28). Some understand the words

rendered “which is among you - τὸ ἐν ὑμῖν – to en humin - “ as meaning

“quantum in vobis est,” “as far as lies in your power.”  Others as “that which is

committed to you,” or “that which is placed under your care.” But the simple local

meaning seems the best – “feed the flock of God” - Just the words you would

expect from Peter.  They take us back to that early morning when his Master thrice

bade him feed his sheep and lambs (John 21). To feed the flock is essentially

the minister’s task. It is the duty of the flock to see that they are willing

to be fed!  The Word of truth is the great sanctifying agency in the hands

of the Divine Spirit, and it is the minister’s business so to present this

that sanctification shall be the result. There never was greater need of plain practical

Scripture teaching than NOW,  when the pressure of business leaves, I fear,  too little

leisure for Scripture study. It should not be so, but so it is.  Of the Christian minister

it is said, he shall “warn the unruly, comfort the feeble-minded, support the weak”

(I Thessalonians 5:14) -“taking the oversight  thereof,”-This word  ἐπισκοποῦντες

 – episkopountes – supervising –  is not found in the Sinaitic and Vatican Manuscripts.

Alford thinks that “it has, perhaps, been removed for ecclesiastical reasons, for fear

πρεσβύτεροι – presbuteroi – presbyter – should be supposed to be, as they really

were, ἐπίσκοποιbishop;  overseer.  It is in the Alexandrine and most

other ancient manuscripts and versions, and there seems to be no sufficient reason for

omitting it. It shows that when this  Epistle was written, the words πρεσβύτερος and

ἐπίσκοπος, presbyter and  bishop, were still synonymous (compare Acts 20:17 and

28 in the Greek; also  Titus 1:5 and 7) -  “not by constraint, but willingly;” - The

word ἀναγκαστῶς anagkastos – by constraint, compulsion - occurs only here.

Paul says (I Corinthians 9:16), “Necessity is laid upon me;” but that was an inward

necessity, the constraining love of Christ.  Some good manuscripts add, after “willingly,”

the words κατὰ Θεόν – kata Theon - according to God, i.e. according to His will

(compare Romans 8:27) - “not for filthy lucre,” - The adverb αἰσχροκερδῶς -

aischrokerdos –filthy lucre; avariciously  occurs only here (for the thought,

compare I Timothy 3:8; Titus 1:7). It would seem that, even in the apostolic age,

there were sometimes such opportunities of gain (see Ibid. v.11; II Timothy 3:6)

as to be a temptation to enter the ministry for the sake of money. Peter uses a

strong word in condemnation of such a motive - Overseeing is not to be engaged

in for filthy lucre, i.e. lucre which is not filthy in itself, but becomes filthy when

made the determining consideration in the holding of a sacred office -“but of a

ready mind;” - This adverb προθύμως – prothumos – eagerly - occurs nowhere

else in the New Testament; it has a stronger meaning than the preceding word

ἑκουσίως hekousios – willingly; voluntarily - it implies zeal and enthusiasm. 

A minister’s personal spiritual life is the first essential in his work; he has to watch his

character, lest it should be a shadow darkening his teaching.  The shepherds of Christ’s

fold must, like the great Shepherd, always go first. If you want to work for Christ

successfully, the best part of that work will be done in your closet, ministering Christ

to yourself.

 

A major duty of the elder is to tend the flock. That touching figure of the relations

between a shepherd and his flock covers all the duties of the ministerial office. The

shepherd feeds, guides, protects, his flock. The presbyters of the Church

must do the like; they must be faithful dispensers of God’s holy Word and

sacraments; they must preach zealously, diligently, as dying men to dying

men; they must teach privately, from house to house; they must care for

the little ones, the lambs of Christ; they must do all that lieth in them to

bring their people to the holy table of the Lord, there to feed on Him in

their hearts by faith with thanksgiving. They must guide the flock,

themselves leading the way, setting a holy example, an example of

humility, holy love, self-denying zeal. They must do all they can to protect

their flock from the evil one, the lion who goeth about seeking whom he may

devour; they must do their best by constant prayer for their people, by

affectionate warnings, sometimes by faithful rebukes, to save the souls

committed to their charge. And in all this they must set constantly before

their eyes the Lord Jesus Christ, the good Shepherd, as the high Pattern for

all under-shepherds to follow; they must seek daily to learn of Him lessons

of self-sacrificing love and lowliness and ardent zeal for the salvation of

souls. They must remember always that the flock is His, the flock of God,

“the Church of God, which He hath purchased with His own blood”

(Acts 20:28).  And they must watch for souls, as they who must give account

(Hebrews 13:17); for the souls for which the precious Blood was shed are very

dear in the sight of God. The care of His flock is a most solemn, a most sacred

charge; those to whom that charge is entrusted must strive so to labor now that

they may render their account with joy in the great day. 

 

The spirit in which the elder is to work:

 

  • Willingly. The central thought here, the figure of the shepherd, implies

loving care; those who care for the sheep will take the oversight of them

willingly. They wilt need no constraint; they will not need to be urged to

diligence by those set over them, for they will work, not for fear of

censure, but for the love of souls. They will need no external constraint;

for they have within them a constraint stronger than any worldly incentive,

the strong compulsion of the constraining love of Christ (II Corinthians

5:14). 

 

  • Zealously. The hireling cares not for the sheep, but only for his hire; he

fleeth when there is danger, when there is need of hard work, of self

sacrifice. Filthy lucre must not enter into the motives which actuate

the minister of Christ; he must work for the love of the work, for the love

of Him whose work it is, and that zealously, with a holy enthusiasm, knowing

the priceless value of immortal souls.  (See note on Christian zeal on

ch. 3:13 – CY – 2012)

 

  • Humbly. The Lord had once said to Peter, “I will give unto thee the

keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth

shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall

be loosed in heaven”  (Matthew 16:19).  He did not pride himself on the

greatness of his charge; he did not make it a means of self-exaltation; he had

subdued his natural forwardness and impetuosity, and had learned of the

Lord Jesus Christ the blessed grace of humility. Those who have

succeeded him in the work of the ministry must learn the same holy lesson;

they must crush out of their hearts worldly ambitions, the lust of power

 and pre-eminence. They must not lord it over those committed to their charge,

but must try to lead them by the power of holy example. They should ever

study to imitate in all things the one great Example, and so reflecting in their

lives something of the glory of His holiness, they should become themselves

examples to the flock. Even in the apostles’ times there were presbyters —

there was once an apostle — whose motives were unholy, who were

covetous, self-seeking, proud. Example is better than precept; a holy life

has more power over men than holy words; for a holy life proves with

convincing evidence the presence and the energy of the Holy Spirit

of God.

 

 

3 “Neither as being lords over God’s heritage,” - rather, as in the

Revised Version, neither as lording it over the charge allotted to you. The

κατά in the verb κατακυριεύοντες – katakurieuontes  being lords -  is not only

intensive, it implies something of scorn and tyranny or even of  hostility, as also

in  καταδυναστεύουσιν –- katadunasteuousin – oppress;

tyrannize  - (James 2:6); compare Matthew 20:25. The literal rendering of the

clause is, “lording it over the lots.” The Authorized Version, following

Beza, supplies τοῦ Θεοῦ - tou Theou -  God’s heritage. But if this were the

apostle’s meaning, he would surely have used the singular, κλῆρος – klaeros –

 inheritance or“the lot or portion of God;” and it is very unlikely that he would

have left  the most important word to be supplied. Some commentators take

κλῆροι in its modern sense, of the clergy, as if Peter was commanding the bishops

not to tyrannize over the inferior clergy. But this view involves an anachronism;

the word had not acquired this meaning in Peter’s time. It is clearly best to understand

it of the lots or portions assigned to individual presbyters. The word κλῆρος originally

meant a “lot” (Matthew 27:35; Acts 1:26), then portions assigned by casting lots, as

the possessions of the tribes of Israel (Joshua 18 and 19), then any portion or

inheritance however obtained; thus in Deuteronomy 10: 9 the Lord is said to be the

Inheritance - κλῆρος - of the Levites. (I recommend highly Deuteronomy ch 32

v9 – God’s Inheritance by Arthur Pink – this web site – CY – 2012).  In later

times the word was applied to the clergy, who were regarded as, in a special sense,

the Lord’s portion or inheritance, perhaps because God was pleased to take the tribe

of Levi instead of the firstborn, saying, the Levites shall be mine (Numbers 3:12) -  

“but being ensamples to the flock.” - literally, becoming examples.

They must imitate the great Example, the Lord Jesus, and, by gradual

imitation of His blessed character, become examples themselves. Thus they

will acquire a more salutary influence and a truer authority. “The life

should command, and the tongue persuade” (Athanasius, quoted by

Fronmuller).

 

4 “And when the chief Shepherd shall appear,” -  rather, is manifested. The

word rendered “chief Shepherd” - ἀρχιποίμην – archipoimaen - occurs only

here; it reminds us of the Lord’s description of Himself as “the good Shepherd,”

 and of the “great Shepherd of the sheep” (Hebrews 13:20) - “ye shall receive

a crown of glory that fadeth not away.” This is the true reward of the faithful

presbyter, not power or filthy lucre. Literally, it is “the crown of glory,” the

promised glory, the glory of the Lord which He hath promised to His chosen.

“The glory which thou gavest me, I have given them” (John 17:22). The crown

is the glory; the genitive seems to be one of apposition. The Greek word here

rendered “that fadeth not away”-  ἀμαράντινος  amarantinos -  is not

exactly the same with that so rendered in ch.1:4 – ἀμάραντονamaranton–

 taken literally, the words used here mean an amaranthine wreath — a wreath

of amaranth flowers; the general meaning remains the same, “unfading.”

Peter is thinking, not of a kingly crown, but of the wreaths worn on festive

occasions or bestowed on conquerors.  They are to be crowned as with flowers,

i.e. with all that is most beautiful in body and soul. The designation given to

the crown of beauty is derived from a flower, to which Milton thus makes allusion

in Paradise Lost:

 

“Their crowns inwove with amarant and gold;

Immortal amarant, a flower which once

In Paradise, fast by the tree of life

Began to bloom.”

 

As the lily is symbolic of purity, so the amaranth (being what we call an

“everlasting”) is symbolic of immortality. What is at last to blossom forth

in the faithful servants of Christ is never to lose its form or brightness.

 

The reward of the shepherd is not from men. They must not look for it here;

they must wait in patient expectation for the manifestation of the Chief

Shepherd. He is the Center of all pastoral work; the pastoral office comes

from Him. He first discharged it as the chief Shepherd, the good Shepherd;

He cared for the sheep; He died for them. And he appointed under-shepherds

to work under His eye. He still gives the pastoral spirit to those who are

faithfully serving Him in their sacred calling; zeal, self-denying charity, the

strong love of souls, are His gift. For He is the Chief Shepherd, and

under-shepherds must gather round Him, and learn of Him, and imitate

Him, if they are to become in any true sense shepherds and bishops of

souls.  They see Him now, by faith, “through a glass, darkly”  (I Corinthians

13:12), but in the time appointed of the Father He shall come nearer, He shall

be manifested — they shall see Him face to face. “Behold, I come quickly,

 and my reward is with me”  (Revelation 22:4,12).

 

The reward of the shepherd is not filthy lucre, not high place and rank, not

the praise of men. But an amaranthine wreath; not a wreath that withereth,

such as those worn at festive gatherings, or the wreaths so highly prized that were

bestowed on victorious athletes. The wreath which the chief Shepherd

giveth is of amaranth, imperishable; it is a wreath of glory — glory that

cannot fade, for it is the Lord’s own glory, the glory which He had before

the foundation of the world, which He giveth to His chosen. Eye hath not

seen that glory; it hath not entered into the heart of man (Isaiah 64:4;

I Corinthians 2:9); it is the glory of the chief Shepherd. He shall bestow it in the

great day upon those faithful shepherds of the sheep, who for His love have

striven in patience and self-forgetfulness to fulfill the charge which was once

given to Peter, and is given still to those who have succeeded the apostles in

the sacred ministry of the Church: “Lovest thou me? then, feed my lambs,

tend my sheep”  (John 21:15-17).

 

 

The Office of the Christian Clergy (vs. 2-4)

 

The office of the Christian pastor — the bishop, the presbyter, the deacon

— was something new in the history of mankind. The functions of the

Christian pastor differ widely and radically from those of the heathen priest

or philosopher; and they differ decidedly from those of the Jewish prophet

or priest. The bonds uniting pastor and people together are more sacred,

more tender, and more morally powerful than the official bonds which owe

their efficacy merely to superior power or superior wisdom. It is only the

religion of Christ which can furnish the basis for the pastoral relation, even

among those who accept the great doctrines of man’s spiritual nature and

the Divine redemption.

 

  • THE NATURE OF THE PASTORAL LIFE AND MINISTRY.

 

Ø      The personal spring of this ministry is the pure devotion of heart

and energies to THE WELFARE OF THOSE FOR WHOM

CHRIST DIED!

 

Ø      The intellectual character of the pastorate is expressed in the vocation

described by Peter as “feeding the flock.” The reference in this

language is evidently to teaching, to wise and constant instruction in

Divine and spiritual truth.

 

Ø      The moral work to be fulfilled is leading in righteousness. It is not

Enough for the Christian minister to teach; he is called to guide in

the way of virtue and piety, to exercise supervision over the

character and the conduct of the members of the flock.

 

  • THE TEMPTATIONS AND PERILS OF THE PASTORAL LIFE

AND MINISTRY.   Peter deals very faithfully with his fellow-laborers;

he reminds them that they are but men, and are subject to human

infirmities, which MUST BE GUARDED AGAINST BY

WATCHFULNESS AND PRAYER!

 

o       It is possible for one to assume or to retain the pastoral office without a

cheerful and cordial delight in it; as e.g. is the case with those who engage

in the service of the Church, not by Divine summons, but through the

influence of friends or through the force of circumstances. Such ministers

lose the greater part of their power for good, because their heart is not in

their work.

 

o       Mercenary service cannot be profitable to men or acceptable to God.

He who for the sake of gain insincerely professes to seek men’s spiritual

welfare is beneath human contempt.

 

1.      A domineering spirit is contrary to the very nature and purpose of the

pastoral relation. (“The servant of the Lord must not strivbe; but

be gentle to all men, apt to teach, patient” – II Timothy 2:24).

That proud and ambitious natures have made the Church

the means of rising to high station and to vast power is plainly taught

by the history of Christendom. But upon the work of such men the

blessing of the chief Shepherd cannot rest; for He was “meek and

 lowly in heart.”  (Matthew 11:29)

 

  • THE RECOMPENSE OF THE PASTORAL LIFE AND MINISTRY.

 

Ø      Truly,  the laborer is worthy of his hire” (Luke 10:7), but the true

reward is not present, but future.

Ø      It is not from man, but from God.

Ø      It is not perishable, but immortal.

 

For the faithful and the lowly servant of Christ there is reserved the amaranthine

crown.

 

5 “Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder.” – Is

Peter still using the last word in its official sense? or is he passing to its

ordinary meaning? It seems impossible to answer the question with

certainty. Some think that the word νεώτεροι – neoteroi - younger, had

also acquired an official meaning, and that it is used here, and in Acts 5:6 of

assistant-ministers who were employed to help the presbyters and apostles.

Others think that it had a meaning nearly equivalent to our “laity” as

distinguished from the presbyters. But, on the whole, it seems more natural

to suppose that the word “elder,” when once used, led Peter on from

one meaning to another, and that here he is simply speaking of the respect

due to age (compare I Timothy 5:1).  “Yea, all of you be subject one to

another,” - The word ὑποτασσόμενοι – hupotassomenoi -  rendered

“be subject,” is omitted in the most ancient manuscripts. If their reading is

adopted, the dative, ἀλλήλοιςallaelois -  one to another,” may be

taken either with the previous clause, “Submit yourselves unto the elder;

yea, all of you, to one another;” or with that which follows, “Be clothed

with humility one towards another.”  “and be clothed with humility:” –

The word rendered “be clothed” - ἐγκοβώσασθε – egkobosasthe –

wear ye the sevile apron -  occurs here only, and is a remarkable word.

It is derived from κόμβος – kombos - a knot or band;  - the corresponding

noun. ἐγκόμβωμα – egkomboma -  was the name of an apron worn by slaves,

which was tied round them when at work, to keep their dress clean. The word

seems to teach that humility is a garment which must be firmly fastened

on and bound closely round us. The association of the slave’s apron seems

also to suggest that Christians should be ready to submit to the humblest works

of charity for others, and to point back to the lowliness of the Lord Jesus,

when He girded Himself, and washed the feet of his apostles (John 13:4).

It may be noticed that the Greek word for “humility”-  ταπεινοφροσύνη

tapeinophrosunae - is used only by Paul, except in this place -  Humility does

not grow on us; it is foreign to our proud selfish nature; and the soul which sets

out at the Divine bidding to acquire this spirit of humility to which God imparts

all grace, will have to be much alone with itself and God, and not be in a

moment’s doubt as to where lies ONE OF THE GREAT BATTLEFIELDS

OF LIFE! -  “for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.” 

Peter is quoting from the Septuagint Version of Proverbs 3:34, without marks of

quotation, as in other places.  James quotes the same passage (James 4:6),

and with the same variation, substituting “God” for “Lord,” as Peter does.

The Greek word for “resisteth” -  ἀντιτάσσεται – antitassetai - is a

strong one: God rangeth himself as with an army against the haughty.  Think

of having the whole of God, His purposes, His laws, His providences,

 yea, and His love, turned to fight against us.  Now think of God’s Grace!

WHAT GRACE!   All kinds of grace — all the varied treasures which He

designs for His children, AND WHICH CHRIST’S SACRIFICE HAS

PURCHASED FOR THEM!   Grace according to the riches of Divine glory.

WHO CAN HAVE IT?  The consciously empty heart, submitting itself to

God, to be filled by Him. 

 

Often, our attitude toward God under affliction is one of rebellion!  Affliction may

come through many means, but, let the means be what they may, it is “the mighty

 hand of God.” Now, our tendency is to rebel against Him and His will, and this

rebellion is THE ESSENCE OF PRIDE!  It is the soul lifting up its own judgment

against the wisdom of the Most High. We call our murmuring at God’s will

by much softer names than this, but this is what it is; let us shrink from it

with all our might. Here is our Pattern.   Jesus Christ, a pleader in the dark grove

of Gethsemane, pleading in His agony, “Father, if it be possible, let this cup

pass from me” (Matthew 26:39); but adding, in the utter humility of His faith,

“The cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?” (John

18:11)  Often, we exhibit our unwillingness to trust Him. We think our

affairs depend on  us, and that, if we fail, they must fail. I say it is a subtle pride

that is at the bottom of that, THE SOUL UNWILLING TO LET GOD BE

EVERYTHING! 

 

 

Children are required by Divine authority to be subject to parents.

The young and inexperienced in human society are enjoined to show

respect and deference to those who have seen much of life, and who have

acquired lessons of experience and wisdom.   In the Church of Christ, novices

and recruits should place themselves under the guidance of veterans, and members

of any congregation should submit to the judgment and authority of those who

are placed in office.

 

A lawless spirit is a hopeless spirit. Where there is no modesty, no humility,

there is little prospect of moral growth, of a mature, noble, and serviceable character.

 

Especially, obedience and subjection are the best preparation for the

exercise of authority and command. As society is constituted, it is natural

and necessary that, whilst generation succeeds generation, the younger should

step into the places of those who have gone before them, and should wield the

power which they formerly acknowledged and cheerfully obeyed.  Thus the order

and happiness of society and of the Christian Church are secured and promoted.

Insubordination is a curse alike to Church and State. True liberty and true

order are not opposed, but harmonious. It is well with that community where the

elder and the rulers exercise their power in the sight of God and for the public

good; and where the younger and the subject submit themselves “to every

 ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake.”  (ch.2:13)

 

We, too, are slaves, bought and absolutely possessed by our Owner and Master,

Jesus Christ. The fitting garb for us is that lowliness of mind which He Himself

manifested, and which Christianity has throned as in some sense the queen of

all the virtues. It is purely a Christian virtue; the very name for it in the New

Testament is a Christian coinage; for new things need new words, and this was a

new thing. The modest grace of humility looks, by the side of the splendid virtues

of Greece and Rome, like some homely brown bird among the gorgeously

colored birds of the East, or a dove among eagles. The gospel has brought

to us such a clear revelation of what we ought to be, and has so quickened

the sensitiveness of men’s consciences as to their failures and sins, that a

lowly estimate of one’s self is for a Christian the only possible one, and is

felt to be for all men the only true one. The more clear our vision of what

we may become, and the more ardent our enthusiasm after yet unattained

stages of progress in character, the more lowly will necessarily be our

estimate of ourselves. Whoever has seen himself as he really is will have no

heart to blow his own trumpet, or to hear other men singing his praises.

 

If we would obey this injunction, and be rooted in humility, we must seek to

know ourselves as we are, and to that end must study our own faces in the glass

of God’s Word and Christ’s example.  These mirrors will show us what will put

us out of conceit of ourselves.  We must further reverse the favorite mode of

comparison with others, and search into their good and our own evil. We must

further remember that all on which pride or self-conceit can build their flimsy

castles is God’s gift, and that therefore thankfulness and not self-exaltation

should be our temper. To wear this servile dress goes clean against the grain of

human nature. It is the victory of unselfishness when we truly put it on. It is not

pleasant to flesh and blood to go about in the garb which proclaims that we

are slaves. But what true Christianity can there be in a man who has not

learned that he is poor and blind and naked (Revelation 3:17-18), and that

all his wealth and sight and vesture he must owe to UNDERSERVED,

UNPURCHASED GRACE?  And how can a man who has had to kneel

before Jesus a suppliant penitent, and confess himself leprous and beggared

and lost, get up from his knees and go out among his fellows, carrying his

head very high and bearing himself as if he were somebody? If we are Christ’s,

we must wear the dress that proclaims us slaves, and gird ourselves with

humility, the livery of His household.

 

Christ is our Pattern which we have to follow!  Our thoughts are carried back, 

to the memorable incident of the foot-washing (John 13). In that incident was

condensed, and as it were presented in an acted parable, the spirit of Christ’s

whole mission. The evangelist emphatically marks that supreme instance of

condescension as being the outcome of our Lord’s clear consciousness of His

Divine Sonship and of His universal authority. Just because he knew that He had

come from God and went to God, and held all things in His sway, He bowed to

serve us. And it was also the outcome of His ever-flowing love to His followers.

So his whole work on earth, in every stage of its humiliation, is based on that

unique consciousness of Divinity and imperial sway, and is animated by

love. As He then laid aside His garments, so He has put off the glories which

He wore or ever the world was; and as He then girded Himself with the

towel, so He has voluntarily assumed the coarse and lowly body of our

humiliation, stooping to be a man. As He then assumed a menial garb in

order that He might wash His disciples’ feet, so He has taken the form of a

servant and become obedient to death that He might cleanse us all from our

sins, by His own application to conscience and character of His own

cleansing blood. In all these points we have to follow His example. Our

humility must not only be a lowly estimate of ourselves, but it must be a

practical stripping off of distinctions and prerogatives and an identifying of

ourselves with the lowliest. IT MUST LEAD TO SERVICE!   That service must

have for its end our brother’s cleansing. Jesus is not only our Pattern, but also

our Motive; and not only our Motive, but by His indwelling Spirit He is the

Power which molds our selfishness into the likeness of HIS PERFECT SELF-

SURRENDER! In the deepest sense of the words, the “mind which was in

 Christ Jesus” MUST BE IN US  if we are truly Christians (Philippians

2:5).  If we have not His Spirit, we are not His servants (Romans 8:9).  If we

have that Spirit, we too, like Him, shall be girt with humility, and do for others

what He has done for us!

 

The purpose of the piece of dress here referred to was, as  we have said, a kind

of loose “overall” put on in preparation for work, and, according to another, a

scarf which served the purpose of a girdle. So this  grace of humility may be

regarded as keeping all the other virtues which robe  the Christian character

in their places. It adds luster to them all, as rich attire and flashing jewels are

harmonized and beautified by some sober-tinted cloak thrown over them. Moses

was unaware that his face shone. But the  great purpose for which humility is enjoined

on Christians is that they may be ready for service. The man who flaunts about

in gay clothing of self-conceit is usually slow to put his hand to work in

anything which will not advance his reputation, or will soil his bravery.

Fine clothes and hard work do not go well together. He is generally more

ready to insist upon his claims than to respond to his brother’s claims on

him. We must put off that gaudy robe, and be content to hide our

excellences with the wrapper of humility, as a servant puts on some coarse

apron for coarse tasks, if we are to be rightly attired for the work we have

to do. The humble mind thinks not of its claims on others, but of its duties

to them. It is ready for the lowest service, and is kept by no false dignity

from placing itself by the side of the feeblest and the foulest. Like the

Master, it will take beggars by the hand, nor shrink from the touch of

publicans and sinners.

 

6 “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of

God, that he may exalt you in due time.”  The Alexandrine Manuscript

and some ancient versions add ἐπισκοπῆς – episkopaes - in the time of visitation,

whether in mercy or judgment; probably from Luke 19:44; see also ch. 2:12.

This is the same word for bishop as above/  For “the mighty hand of God,” compare

Deuteronomy  3:24; Luke 1:51. Peter was doubtless thinking of the well-remembered

words of the  Lord, “He that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”  (Ibid. ch.14:11).

 

It is natural for men to think highly of themselves and depreciatingly of others. Pride

was always reckoned by the old Catholic moralists among the seven deadly sins. It is

a sin into which too many habitually fall, however it may seem to them anything hut a

sign of degradation. Christianity attacks this habit, and seeks to substitute for it in

human character the fair but often despised grace of humility.

 

In the THE SPHERE OF HUMILITY the Christian is humble before God.

A just and scriptural conception of the Divine attributes is necessary to true

humility. A man must compare himself with INFINITE GREATNESS AND

EXCELLENCE, WITH INFINITE POWER AND WISDOM,  in order that

he may form a proper estimate of himself. Such humility displays itself in reverential

prayer, in scrupulous obedience, in patient submission, especially under disciplinary

affliction.  The Christian is humble in his demeanor towards his fellow-men.

This is a far more difficult exercise. And it must not be supposed that humility is

expected, of the same kind and the same degree, in the attitude of man to

man, as in the attitude of man to God. A wise man is not required to regard

a fool as his superior in wisdom, or a virtuous man to regard a criminal as

his superior in character. But the Christian is to guard against an

overbearing and haughty spirit; he is to treat the lowly and the poor with

due respect and consideration. Humility is best shown in the bearing of a

man towards those who are his inferiors, and even towards those who are

ungrateful for favors and services.

 

The expression in the original translated “gird yourselves with humility”

seems to imply both that an effort and resolution are required, and that humility

is to become a vestment, a clothing, to be habitually worn for use.

 

None who truly knows himself can cherish pride. His frequent errors in the past,

his liability still to err, must be too present to his mind. to allow of self-confidence

and boasting.  There is a pressing necessity of being of service to our fellow-man.

All around us are those who need help and such ministry to them may involve the

sacrifice of self and the CRUCIFIXION OF PRIDE!

 

The precepts and example of the Lord Jesus Himself must have great force with

His affectionate followers (ch.2:21; Hebrews 12:1-3).

 

7 “Casting all your care upon Him;” -  rather, all your anxiety μέριμνα

merimnan – worry; anxiety.  Peter is quoting, with slight alterations, the Septuagint

Version of  Psalm 55:22. We cast our anxiety upon God when we fulfill the Lord’s

commandment, “Take no thought [rather, ‘be not anxious’], saying, What shall

 we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? For

your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things”

(Matthew 6:31-32).  God cares for us; therefore we must not be over-anxious, but

trust in Him. The participle is aorist, as if implying that we are to cast the

whole burden of all our anxieties πᾶσαν τὴν μέριμναν ὑμῶν – pasan taen

merimnan humon – every worry we have - by one act of faith upon the Lord –

“for He careth for you.” The Greek word is μέλει – melei – is caring -  quite

different from the μέριμνα of the foregoing clause. The care which is forbidden

is that anxiety about worldly things which harasses a man and

distracts his mind, so that he cannot compose himself to prayer and holy

meditation. God’s care for us is calm, holy, thoughtful providence. He

“knoweth that we have need of all these things;” (Ibid. v. 32); and He

maketh all things work together for good to his chosen, to them that love Him

(Romans 8:28).

 

The early Christians, enduring persecution, was concerned about what would

happen inn the event of their being martyred, how would their families be provided

for?  How would their children be defended against worldly influences, WHICH

WAS WORSE THAN PERSECUTION!   Let them be encouraged to cast all

their anxious care upon God; for He most effectually cared for them. He was

acquainted with all their anxious care in its length and breadth, in its height and depth,

and He would not forget them or theirs in the present or in the future. When Peter

penned this precept he had grown above his own restless energy into the calm of

words which he had once heard from sacred lips. “For your heavenly Father

knoweth that ye have need of these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of

God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.

Take therefore no thought [have no anxious care] for the morrow”

(Matthew 6:31-33).

 

The Christian religion is not intended merely to brighten this life, when dark, but

to promote the prospect of a better life to come!.  From the beginning human

life has abounded in occasions of anxiety. No doubt the measure of this evil varies

with the character and temperament of individuals, and with their needs and

circumstances. The anxieties of some are personal; those of others are relative.

Many are anxious because:

 

o       health is broken, or

o       circumstances are narrow, or

o       a vocation is uncongenial

o       of the prospects of their children,

o       of concern for the state of their Church

or their country.

 

The anxieties of not a few arise from their spiritual state — their temptations,

doubts, and fears. These anxieties are distractions, and have a tendency to

depress the spirits, to mar happiness, to cripple in the discharge of duty.

 

There is a remedy for this ill.  It is, in the simple language Peter — language

prompted, there can be no doubt, by his own personal experience — TO

CAST ANXIETY UPON GOD.   But how is this to be done? It is to be

done by confession of sin, byy prayer; in which deliverance is to be sought.

“Roll thy burden,” said the psalmist, “upon the Lord” (Psalm 55:22).

By faith; in which the anxious Christian, convinced of GOD’S ALL-

SUFFICIENCY, is content to leave all that concerns him in the wise

and merciful hands of his Father and Savior. Whether the cause for anxiety

be temporal or spiritual, great or small, personal or relative, THE REMEDY

IS THE SAME AND EFFICACIOUS! 

 

The apostle assures us that God “careth for us” and that He takes a deep and

sympathetic interest in the condition and the sorrows of His children upon

earth. Nor is this all, there are ways in which God gives expression to His

interest and care for His own. By His providence He guides and governs all

human affairs for their good. And by His Spirit He brings their hearts into

harmony with His will, and thus causes all things to work together for their

good.  (Romans 8:28)

 

8 “Be sober, be vigilant;” - (compare I Thessalonians 5:6). For the

first word, νήψατε – naepsate – be ye sober -  see note on v.7. The second

γρηγόρησατε – graegoraesate – watch ye; be vigilant - is the word so often

and so emphatically used by our Lord (Mark 13:35, 37; Matthew 26:40-41, etc.).

The imperatives are aorist, as in v.7; and, as there, either imply that the exhortation

was needed by the readers, or are used to express vividly the necessity of

instant attention - “because your adversary the devil,” -  The conjunction

“because” is omitted in the best manuscripts. The asyndeton (A writing style that

omits conjunctions between words, phrases, or clauses), as in the last clause, increases

the emphasis. The word rendered “adversary” ἀντίδικος – antidikos -

means properly an opponent in a lawsuit, as in Matthew 5:25; but it is

also used generally for “adversary,” and so is a translation of the Hebrew

word Satan. The word διάβολοςdiabolos - devil, means “slanderer,”

“false accuser”  - “as a roaring lion,” -  He is called a serpent to denote

his subtlety, a lion to express his fierceness and strength. The word rendered

“roaring” - ὠρυόμενος – oruomenos -  is used especially of the cries of wild

beasts when ravenous with hunger (see Psalm 104:21; and compare Psalm 22:13,21) –

“walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:”  (Compare Job 1:7; 2:2).

The words express the restless energy of the wicked one. He cannot touch

those WHO ARE KEPT BY THE POWER OF GOD THROUGH FAITH

UNTO SALVATION,  but he walketh about, looking eagerly after any LOST

SHEEP THAT MAY HAVE WANDERED FROM THE FOLD.  He roars

in the craving of his heart for prey, like a hungry lion, seeking whom he may devour,

or (for the reading here is somewhat uncertain) to devour some one, or simply to

devour. The Greek word means literally “to drink down;” it implies utter

destruction. It is the word in I Corinthians 15:54, “Death is swallowed up

κατεπόθη – katepothae – IN VICTORY!”   Satan now seeks whom he

may destroy: “The Lord will destroy him that hath the power of death,

that is, the devil” (Hebrews 2:14).

 

Concerning Satan, the Scriptures are our only source of information in this matter,

the teaching is very plain. We have the same evidence for the personality of Satan

as of God. He is universally spoken of as a person; we are taught to pray, “Deliver us

from the evil one” (Matthew 6:13).  It is said, when Scripture speaks of him thus,

it is in a figure — the principle of evil personified. There can be no such thing as a

principle of evil apart from mind; yet when Jesus, in whose mind was no evil, was in

the wilderness, Satan was there; and in heaven, where from every mind evil

has been expelled, the Book of Job tells us Satan was there. Satan appears

before us in Scripture as an apostate angel, exalted above his associates,

the great enemy of God and man, the first cause of sin here, the quickener

of temptation in human minds, the “god of this world,” permitted under

Divine restraint to “blind the minds of those who believe it;” that man in his

freedom of will may elect the good, and attain that holiness which must

always be voluntary, and rise to that purity and blessedness which are only

possible through temptation’s discipline.  “As a roaring lion” suggests the

twofold idea of power and great cruelty.  “He goeth about,” etc. SATAN

IS NO OMNIPOTENT, NEITHER IS HE OMNIPRESENT, but he

has larger agencies under his control than we suppose, and wherever man is,

there may be no moment when, by some instrumentality, he may not have access

to our will. Every circumstance may conceal our deadly foe. Are you weak? or are

you a leader? Be sure his eye is fixed on you; he thirsts to destroy:

 

o       your faith,

o       your purity,

o       your peace, and

o       your good name. 

 

Peter may well have remembered the Lord’s appeal to him and his

companions in the garden of Gethsemane, “Could ye not watch with me

one hour?”  (Matthew 26:40)   And his failure upon that occasion to exercise

this virtue, connected as it was with the reproach of his Divine Friend, may well have

deepened his sense of the importance of the Christian virtue which he in this passage

inculcated upon his readers.

 

Whether Christians are vigilant or not, they may be sure the adversary of souls is

upon the alert, and ready to take advantage of every opportunity of attacking us

by force or seducing us by craft.  The frailty of our own nature is prone to concur

with the enemy’s activity in exposing us to spiritual danger. We have not only to

watch against Satan, we have to watch against self.

 

We need to watch our thoughts. Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts and

sins (Mark 7:21-23);  accordingly the precept of inspiration is most appropriate,

Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life”

(Proverbs 4:23). 

 

We need to watch the lips. We are reminded by James that the tongue is a

little member, but that it may be set on fire of hell (James 2:5-6).  How much

misery is caused by unbridled speech! — misery to the speaker himself, who

regrets words spoken in sinful anger or passion of some other kind; misery to

others, whose character may be blasted, whose usefulness may be crippled.

 

We need to watch our actions. It has been said that four-fifths of life consists of

conduct. Certain it is that, unless the actions be watched, unless deeds of

justice and mercy occupy the energies, all professions of religion are

worthless. No man ought to be so confident of the stability and purity of

his character as to deem himself exempt from the necessity of observing his

conduct and consciously regulating it by the counsels of inspired wisdom.

 

Jesus said, “I say unto all, Watch!” (Mark 13:37)  “Watch and pray, lest

ye enter into temptation!” (Ibid. ch.14:38)

 

Satan tempts to cast us down; God permits him to tempt, in order to raise us up.

Three ways in which we may resist him:

 

o       Sobriety; the opposite of intoxication. Anything that strengthens the

lower principle of our nature, deadening us to conscience and reason,

intoxicates (whether alcohol or drugs – CY – 2012). Obsession with

business, love of the world, happiness, sorrow, these also intoxicate.

Christian, be sober, let nothing engross thee till it masters thee.

 

o       Vigilance. “Be vigilant.” Victory is sure to no other attitude; but

attitude must be maintained till death brings the great discharge.

Sometimes Satan so takes us by surprise that we hardly know we

Are sinning till we have sinned. Take heed that he come not upon

you unawares (we are not ignorant of his devices – II Corinthians

2:11 – CY – 2012); five minutes off your guard may be the loss

of your most sacred treasure.

 

o       Steadfastness in the faith. Faith in God is the fort from which the

adversary would dislodge us; driven from that, all is lost, unless God

in His mercy bring us back again. Satan can do us no harm whilst we

are shut up in the strong walls of faith in God. What does the word

“afflictions” mean, coming in where it does? Peter was writing to

the afflicted, and he knew that affliction is Satan’s opportunity; the

afflicted know it too. It is then he whispers, “Is this a God of love?

give up thy faith in him.” Afflictions are a family sign; of all the brethren

it shall be said, “These are they who have come out of great

tribulation” (Revelation 7:14); and the sufferings of the eldest

 Brother, Jesus Christ, God’s Well-beloved, WERE THE

KEENEST OF ALL!

 

9 “Whom resist stedfast in the faith,” – compare James 4:7, where the same

word, ἀντίστητε – anthistaete –resist; withstand ye -  is used; the close

resemblance seems to indicate Peter’s knowledge of the Epistle of James; compare

also Paul in Ephesians 6:13, etc. The Greek word for “steadfast” - στεροί -

steroi – solid ones – is emphatic; it implies solidity, rocklike firmness. Only faith

can give THAT STEADFASTNESS  faith in Christ, the one Foundation,

the Rock on which the Christian’s house is built. Faith here is trustfulness rather than

objective truth. Therefore the rendering of the Revised Version seems preferable, “in

your faith,” the article having, as often, a possessive meaning - It is sometimes our

duty to flee from the devil (I Corinthians 6:18). We are to flee from the scene where

we are strongly tempted. We are here exhorted not to flee from but to face the devil;

and James adds the thought that, when we boldly face him, HE WILL FLEE

FROM US (James 4:7) -  “knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished

in your brethren that are in the world.”  Literally, the same (forms) of afflictions

τὰ αὐτὰ τῶν παθημάτων – ta auta ton pathaematon – the same of the sufferings -  

unusual construction with the pronoun, though common with adjectives, intended to

give emphasis; the sufferings were the very same.  The infinitive is present; it should

therefore be rendered, “are being accomplished.” The persecutions were now

beginning to break out. The word for “brethren” is the collective, ἀδελφότητι

adelphotaeti - brotherhood, which we met with in ch.2:17. The dative is that

of reference — “in” or for” the brotherhood. (For the words, “in the world,”

compare John 16:33, “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good

cheer; I have overcome the world.”) There is another way of taking the clause.

The unusual construction (in the Greek Testament) of the accusative and

infinitive, which, indeed, occurs nowhere else with εἰδώς – eidos – knowing;

having perceived-  has led Herman and others to take the verb ἐπιτελεῖσθαι -

epiteleisthai – accomplished; completed; finished - as middle, and to connect

the dative, for the brotherhood,” with τὰ αὐτά - ta auta - the same. Thus the

translation will be, Knowing how to pay the same tribute of affliction as

your brethren in the world.” This seems forced and unnecessary. Huther

gives another possible translation, which he thinks preferable to all others:

Knowing [or better rather, ‘considering’] that the same sufferings are

accomplishing themselves in the brethren.”

 

 

General Exhortations (vs. 5-9)

 

  • TO HUMILITY.

 

Ø      In the case of the young. They must submit themselves to the

elder. Young men are often tempted:

 

o       to despise their seniors,

o       to regard them as antiquated, as obstructive;

o       to be impatient to remodel everything according to their

own devices;

o       to put more  trust in the impetuosity characteristic of

youth than in the mellow wisdom of age.

 

Therefore the Scriptures exhort young men to be sober-minded

(Titus 2:6). They must learn to keep in check the extravagance of

their aspirations, and to remember that the experience of years

gives greater weight to the opinions and advice of their elders.

They must submit themselves to the elder; for “the hoary head is a

crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness”

(Proverbs 16:31).  A graceless old age is a most despicable and

lamentable sight. What gains an unholy man or woman by their

scores of years, but the more scores of guiltiness and misery?

Their white hairs speak of nothing but ripeness for wrath. (In

our study of Judges I came across a statement that at first,

I was taken aback, but then realized its truthfulness –

Truly, it is good that a life so sinful, IS SO BRIEF!

CY – 2012).  But, found in the way of righteousness, the hoary

Head shines, and has a kind of royalty. To such young men should

Submit themselves. Respect for age is graceful and becoming in

 the young, and has the sanction of Holy Scripture.  (I was

blessed to have taught school for 34 years.  All my life I was

taught to respect my elders and when it came to be my turn as

an elder, where was that respect?  Our culture is in great trouble,

including this issue, an IT IS A NATIONAL DISGRACE AND

TRAGEDY THAT TWO GENERATIONS OF CHILDREN

HAVE NEITHER BEEN TAUGHT MORALS, NOR

MANNERS!  - CY – 2012)

 

Ø      Generally. All should be subject one to another. “Honor all men,” the

apostle has already taught us (ch.2:17). Respect is due to all men,

whatever their outward condition; the true Christian will respect the

feelings of his humblest dependents. For all men are the creatures of the

one Father; all are redeemed with the precious blood of Christ; all are dear

to the Savior; and he who loves the Lord who bought us must care for all

those whom He bought with His blood. Therefore the Christian will in a

true sense be subject to all men. He will make himself, like Paul, the

servant of all (I Corinthians 9:19); he will understand that he has duties

even to the wicked and the most degraded; he will readily give up his

own wishes, and submit sometimes to work and surroundings which are

coarse and offensive and utterly distasteful to his feelings; he will be

content to be “made all things to all men, that he might by all

means save some” (Ibid. v.22).  Thus he will be clothed with humility.

He will wear it like a close-fitting dress, firmly fastened on; for unless

 it is woven into the very character, it is quickly driven away and

dissipated by the constant incitements to proud and self-seeking thoughts,

which the varying circumstances of daily life continually suggest. It may

be despised, it may be regarded as a garment fit for slaves; but he who

knows how precious it is will wrap it tightly round him, and will be

careful not to let it go; for while he is covered with it, his inner soul is

kept white and clean from many stains and spots which, but for the robe

of humility, he would inevitably contract in the stir and bustle

of everyday life. The LORD JESUS HIMSELF chose and wore

that  lowly garb. He girded Hmself; He washed his disciples’ feet,

setting us an example that we should do as He hath done unto us; that

as He, our Lord and Master, washed the feet of his creatures (John

13:1-17), so we should be willing to submit ourselves to humble works

of Christian love for the lowliest of our brethren.

 

Ø      Its blessedness. “God resisteth the proud.” It is not out of envy, as the

heathen falsely imagined, and as the serpent whispered to Eve; the

greatness of men does not irritate God, as the Persian thought (Herodotus

7.10); man’s little greatness is nothing in comparison with THE

ETERNAL MAJESTY OF THE MOST HIGH!   It is out of loving care

for us; it is because pride means rebellion, and rebellion is the very

essence of sin; and sin means misery, ruin, death. Therefore “God

resisteth the proud;” He setteth himself in array against them; they must

be brought low; they must sooner or later be humbled to the very dust: for

how can they stand against the Lord God Almighty? “He that exalteth

himself shall be abased” (Luke 14:11).  But “He giveth grace to the

humble” (James 4:6).  The heart that is filled with pride hath no room for

the blessed grace of God; thronging thoughts of self-drive out the holy

thought of God. And the presence of God is the secret of holiness; without

that presence there is no spiritual life. “Abide in me” (John 15:4), saith the

Lord.  It is only lowly-hearted men who can abide in Christ; they obey the

calling of the Lord; they come out of themselves, so to speak, away from

the bustling, restless pursuit of self-interest and self-exaltation into the

quiet, solemn, hallowing sphere of the blessed Savior’s presence; they

abide in that presence, because proud thoughts of self do not draw them

away, because, through the absence of pride and self-assertion, they are

enabled to concentrate their minds upon the gracious presence of Christ.

And while they abide in the humble and reverent sense of His presence,

He abideth in them; He makes His influence more deeply felt, more fully

enjoyed. The spiritual life, which comes from Him who is the Life,

spreads itself throughout their whole being, bringing forth the fruit of

holiness. Thus God giveth grace to the humble. Therefore we ought to

humble ourselves under His mighty hand. His hand is mighty,

almighty; it is vain to strive against the Lord; He brings down the

proud and humbles them to the dust.  But not all whom the Lord

humbles with His chastisements learn to humble themselves; they

are crushed, broken down, but they do not learn that sweet humility

which recognizes its own unworthiness and submits in patient

resignation. He doth not exalt all who are humbled, but all who

humble themselves. Let us seek this precious grace of Him who is meek

and lowly in heart (Matthew 11:28-30).  “He humbled Himself, and

became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross”

(Philippians 2:8).  He is exalted now above all heavens. He will exalt

those who learn of Him the grace of humility, who take up the cross,

denying themselves. He will exalt them in due time; in His own good

time: not yet, perhaps; but surely, sooner or later, when He sees it

best for us; certainly at the great day, when those who have taken

His yoke upon them shall sit with Him upon His throne 

(Revelation 3:21). 

 

  • TO TRUSTFULNESS.

 

Ø      Description of Christian trustfulness. It consists in casting all

our care upon God. This life is full of anxieties. They vary indefinitely

with our position in life, our circumstances, our characters; but none

are free from them. They throng in upon our thoughts and disturb our

rest with their distracting presence. The Lord says, “Take no thought”

(Matthew 6:31); Paul echoes His words, “Be careful for nothing”

(Philippians 4:6);  Peter, quoting the ancient Scriptures, bids us cast

all our care upon the Lord. It is not thoughtfulness which our Lord

and His apostles forbid; it is not carelessness and improvidence which

Holy Scripture commends. The original word in each passage means

“anxiety, distracting care.” We must do our duty, we must

provide, as far as lieth in us, for ourselves and for those dependent on

us, and then trust in God, casting all our anxiety upon Him. If we have

learned to humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God, we shall

know that all our troubles and trials come from Him; we shall know,

too, that His fatherly hand is ever over His people, that they are in

His hands always. Humility increases trustfulness; the sense of our own

weakness deepens our confidence in God.

 

Ø      The grounds of trustfulness.  “He careth for us.” His care is

not like ours; it is not anxiety μέριμνα – merimna. It is calm, loving

providence. He ordereth all things both in heaven and earth, and He

cares for us -  αὐτῷ μέλει  περὶ ὑμῶν – auto melei peri humon –

for He loves us. All things are known to Him — the fall of every

sparrow (Matthew 10:29). He knows all our needs, difficulties,

dangers, temptations, with the same fullness of knowledge and depth

of sympathy as if there were no other beings in the world besides

ourselves and our God. In all those troubles He cares for us, and

guides them all for our eternal good. If we have faith in His love,

we shall be able to cast all our care upon him. Hezekiah took the

threatening letter of Sennacherib into the house of the Lord, and

spread it before the Lord (II Kings 19:14).   So should we do

with all our anxieties, great and small. “Be careful for

nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with

thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God”

(Philippians 4:6).  If we do this, if we lay not only the great

anxieties which come occasionally, but also the little daily trials

of common life, before the Lord, then the peace of God (which

passeth all understanding) shall keep our hearts and thoughts.

(Ibid. v.7).  “He careth for us.” The thought is full of deep

sweetness and strong consolation. Only let us take it into our

hearts, and we shall be able to roll away from ourselves the

burden of anxieties and to cast it upon God.

 

  • TO WATCHFULNESS.

 

Ø      The need for it. We may cast all our care upon Him; yet we

must watch and pray. We are bidden to cast our anxieties upon

God for the very reason that we may have time and freedom of

thought to care for our souls. There is need of watchfulness

and of that temperance without which we cannot be watchful, for

we have an adversary, an enemy, who seeks our ruin. That

adversary is restless in his insatiable malice. He goeth to and fro

in the earth; he walketh about.  There is no corner of the earth,

no human being safe from his assaults; not even the remote

wilderness, not even the incarnate Son of God (Matthew 4:1-11).

He walketh about, impatient, eager, full of rage and bitter hatred,

like a lion roaring from the pangs of unsatisfied hunger. The holy

Lord Jesus Christ thirsted for the salvation of souls; this horrible

lion hungers for their death and endless misery. He is always

seeking whom he may devour. Therefore the Christian must be

ever on the watch; temptations come when we least expect them.

He must be strictly temperate; excess in meat and drink, self-indulgence

in any form, prevent him from watching, and expose him to the

wiles of the enemy.  (II Corinthians 2:11; Ephesians 6:11)

 

Ø      Encouragements for watchfulness..

 

o       The strength of faith. We are bidden to resist this

roaring lion, to withstand him in all his fury. He is strong;

but this is the victory that overcometh, even our faith

(I John 5:4).  Faith is strong, because it lays hold upon God,

and finds in Him almighty strength. Faith, sets the

stronger Lion of the tribe of Judah (Revelation 5:5) against

this roaring lion of the bottomless pit; that delivering Lion

against this devouring lion. Faith gives steadfastness, solid

firmness, for it sets our feet upon the Rock, and that

Rock is Christ. “They that trust in the Lord shall be

 as Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abideth

 forever” (Psalm 125:1).

 

o       The thought of community in suffering.There hath no

Temptation taken us, but such as is common to man”

(I Corinthians 10:13).  We must not suppose, as we are

apt to do, that we are of all men the most sorely tried.

The Lord Jesus Christ suffered being tempted (Hebrews

2:18).  He endured for us that great agony of temptation

in the wilderness.  (Matthew 4)  All our brethren in the faith

are tempted too, and tried by various forms of suffering.

Let us, seeing that we are encompassed about with a great

cloud of witnesses (Hebrews 12:1), follow the faith of the

saints and martyrs of the Lord; but, above all, let us look

unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith,

 learning of him to endure the cross and to

be faithful unto death.  (Ibid. v.2)

 

10 “But the God of all grace,” -  (compare II Corinthians 1:3, “the God of all

comfort”) -  The beginning of God’s grace was when He called them in eternal glory

before the world began (see Ephesians 3:16-21).  Peter has finished his exhortations;

he has told his readers what they must do; he now bids them look to God, and tells

 them where they will find strength. God will work within them both to will and

to do of His good pleasure; for HE IS THE GOD OF ALL GRACE! 

All that grace by which we are saved, without which we can do nothing, comes

from HIM as its AUTHOR and SOURCE!  - That the Eternal is a God of grace;

yea, “of all grace,” this revelation enhances our conception of His glory. (“in the

face of Jesus Christ” (see II Corinthians 4:6).  In fact, it is THE

 MANIFESTATION OF GOD IN CHRIST WHICH MAKES THIS

DECLARATION COMPREHENSIBLE AND REAL TO US!  There is no

one of us, at any moment of his life, who does not stand in need of grace —

pardoning grace, renewing grace, strengthening grace, enlightening grace,

consoling grace. And when our Father in heaven is thus depicted by the inspired

apostle, the Christian reader cannot but recognize, in such a delightful representation,

abundant ground for gratitude, abundant encouragement to faith, abundant stimulus to

prayer; whilst he who has offended against God’s righteous laws, and who repents of

his transgressions, may find, in this representation, ground for approaching the Divine

presence with the assurance of a favorable reception and of forgiving  mercy –

(“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain

Mercy, and find grace to help in the time of need” (Hebrews 4:16) – It is

wonderful to have the knowledge that they were not left to themselves, but

that there was One with them stronger than their adversary. (“Greater is He

that is in you, than he that is in the world” (I John 4:4).  Let them be

supported by the consciousness that they occupied no singular position. It

was the destiny of the brotherhood in the world to suffer. The same

sufferings were being accomplished in Babylon from which Peter wrote

as in the Churches of Asia Minor to which he wrote. “who hath  called us

unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus,” -   rather, who called you... in

Christ Jesus. All the best manuscripts read “you” instead of us. Two of the most

ancient omit “Jesus” here. God called us “in Christ;” that is, through spiritual

union with Christ; the glory is promised to these who are one with Christ;

for THE GLORY IS CHRIST’S  and HIS MEMBERS WILL SHARE

IT!  The very end and purpose of our calling was that we might INHERIT

THAT GLORY!   This is the apostle’s great topic of consolation - “after that

ye have suffered a while,” - literally, a little. The word may refer to the

degree, as well as to the duration, of the sufferings. They are transient; THE

GLORY IS ETERNAL!   They may seem very severe, but they are light in

comparison with that “far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”  

(II Corinthians 4:17-18) – We should remember that the trial is transient.

“Alter ye have suffered a little while. Often it seems long. “Life, an age

to the miserable, a moment to the happy.” But it is a “little while”

comparatively to eternity -  There is consolation in the way this is stated,

the shortness of the suffering being placed in contrast with the length

of the glory! - In and through the suffering God would support them,

so that  they would not fail of eternal glory. The three words employed

following, has the effect of giving increased force to the idea:

 

Ø      The first word, make you perfect  - is a promise that God will

supply all that is lacking in the elements of character upon which

strength depends.

 

Ø      The second word, stablish - is a promise that God will keep

from being overpowered in the actual assault.

 

Ø      The third word, strengthen  -  is a promise that God will increase

strength so as to turn successful resistance into victorious aggression.

 

The God who called, He will support all through unto eternal glory - “make you

perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.”  The manuscripts vary between the

future and the optative mood (a wish or a hope) in these four verbs; the preponderance

of evidence seems in favor of the future. The emphatic pronoun αὐτός – autos – you –

must not be omitted.  Translate therefore, “shall Himself make you perfect.” He only

can “perfect what is lacking in our faith” (I Thessalonians 3:10, where the same

verb is used); and HE WILL DO IT!  ( I  Thessalonians 5:23) - This is our hope and

encouragement. The verb καταρτίσει – katartisei  - perfect; adjust -  means

“to finish, to complete, to repair.” It is the word used in the account of the

calling of Peter and Andrew, James and John, by the Sea of Galilee, when

the two last were in the ship with Zebedee their father, mending

καταρτίζοντας – katartizontas - their nets (Matthew 4:21; Mark 1:19).

God will repair, bring to completion, what is lacking in the character

of His chosen, if they persevere in prayer, if they are sober and vigilant

(compare I  Corinthians 1:10; II Corinthians 13:11). (Also, “The Lord will

perfect that which concerneth me.” Psalm 138:8 – CY – 2012)  - Stablish-

 στηρίξει - staerixei -. The Lord had said to Peter, “When

thou art converted, strengthen -  στήριξον – staerixon - thy brethren”

(Luke 22:32); Peter remembers his Master’s words. Strengthen - σθενώσει

sthenosei -  the word occurs only here. Settle - θεμελιώσει – themeliosei –

literally, “shall ground you, shall give you a firm foundation.” (compare

Ephesians 3:17; II Timothy 2:19; I Corinthians 3:11). The word is omitted in the

Vatican and Alexandrine Manuscripts; but it is found in the Sinaitic and other

manuscripts and versions, and ought to be retained.

 

There is help in the title here ascribed to God. “The God of all grace”

— of every needed grace, of every kind of grace, of every means of grace.

Here is the power that overcometh Satan. “My grace is sufficient for thee”

(II Corinthians 12:9).  God hath called us unto His eternal glory and He will

accomplish His purpose, and, though Satan does his worst, if in our resistance

of him we bear the mark of the “called,” nothing shall prevent our reaching

perfect victory when our “little while” of suffering shalt be forgotten in the

eternal glory of the tearless land.  GOD WILL HELP!    “He shall Himself

perfect, stablish, strengthen you.” The victory shall be His. As you resist the

foe, He will gird you with strength. He will nerve your arm, He will beat

down Satan under your feet shortly” (Romans 16:20); and in that day your

humbled, grateful soul will recognize that it was all of Him, and will cry, with

the apostle, To Him the dominion for ever and ever.”  (v.11)

 

The words, “after that ye have suffered a while,” must be connected more

immediately with the preceding. They teach that the way to the eternal glory is

hrough transitory, brief suffering. The apostle comes back to the thoughts with which

he began his Epistle about “for a season being in heaviness” (ch. 1:6).  These

sufferings, then, were included in the Divine purpose. They are as much a part of His

scheme, are as much a fruit of His inexhaustible love, as the glory to which

they lead.  They do not break in upon the Divine plan. There is no fear of their

threatening its fulfillment. They are not excrescences, but essential parts of that deep

counsel of the unfathomable wisdom according to which all our circumstances are

appointed by Him. He will not, then, be taken at unawares by them, nor will

any accumulation of sorrow or suffering be any hindrance to His Divine

purpose of strengthening us. The electric spark finds no resistance to its

passage in the deepest sea, and though all the waves and billows go over

us, His sustaining grace can none the less make its way to our hearts. Nor

are they only his appointment, but THEIR DIRECT PURPOSE IS TO

FIT US FOR THE ETERNAL GLORY TO WHICH WE ARE CALLED!

Joy alone would not do that. The heart needs to be refined by sorrow, and the

experience of desolation, ere it can fully receive the grace now which leads to

the glory hereafter. So we are not only strengthened for, but by, sorrow; and

one of God’s ways of “stablishing” us is to cut away all other props, that we

may lean all our weight upon Him. Faith, then, out of the lion brings honey, wrings

hope and assured triumph out of the very pains and foes that beset us, as if one

should draw lightning to guide him on his road from the heavy thunderclouds

that frown above him. When sorrow comes, see in it a part of that

Divine plan which issues in eternal glory, see in it one of the channels by

which that plan shall be accomplished, that glory reached, and the grace of

the God of all grace enter more abundantly into your heart. So good cheer

will be born of sadness, as radiant morning from night, and your light

affliction, which is but for a moment, will bring you even now a confidence

in God and an enlarged strength, which are precursors and pledges of an

eternal weight of glory!  The whole verse is best regarded, with the Revised

Version, not as a prayer, but as an assurance: “God shall perfect, stablish,

strengthen, settle you.”

 

The word here translated “perfect” properly means “to restore to a state of

completeness.” It is used to describe the process of mending nets. It is used

in its ethical sense (Galatians 6:1) to express the Christian duty of

restoring the brother overtaken in a fault. And so it is employed here for

that great work of Divine grace by which our defects are made good, the

rents which sin has made mended, the tarnished purity given back, the scars

effaced. That form of the Divine help answers to the deepest of our needs,

and, in its incipient stages, is the first-fruits of the great harvest of God’s

grace which a believing soul reaps. We need first of all forgiveness and the

removal of the guilt of our sins. All restoration of fallen men to the lost

ideal of man, which is the likeness of God, must begin there, and then there

follows a long process which the patient God carries on, mending us by

slow degrees, and step by step supplementing this defect and repairing the

results of that sin, till there be no gaps remaining needing to be filled and

no flaws in character needing to be corrected. “‘Tis a lifelong task till the

lump be leavened.” The restoring grace has to permeate all the crannies

and corners of the soul. It must transform and expel, if it is to mend and

restore. When we think of our own defects and see how much is lacking in

our characters, we may well feel that nothing can ever fill up these. Then

the confidence of this brave text may hearten us. It is the God of all grace

to whom we look for our perfecting. No emptiness can be so vast and so

empty that that “all” cannot fill it. No man can have gone so far from the

right way, or had his nature so lacerated by sin’s cruel fangs, that that “all”

cannot heal and repair the damage. Therefore the more we sound the

height, and length, and breadth, and depth of our imperfections and sins,

the more joyfully should we think of THE COMPLETENESS OF THAT

POWER  which overlaps them on all sides and surpasses them in every

dimension, and the more confidently should we exclaim, The God of all grace

 shall RESTORE US AND COMPLETE US!

 

The God of all grace will stablish us. The assurance comes with special force

from the life of the Apostle Peter whose earlier character had been marked by such

extreme variations, and by such an enormous difference between high and low

water. If ever there was a believer whose impulsiveness needed steadying,

it was the man who is denying his Master from fear of a maidservant’s

sharp tongue less than four and twenty hours after he had bragged that,

whoever fled, he would stand by Him (Matthew 26:33; 69-70).  Such quick

alternations of hot and cold fits indicate a character very lovable, no doubt, in its

transparency and in its generous impulses, but needing much painful discipline,

before it can be consolidated into “rock,” and Peter deserve his new name. There

are many indications in this Epistle that the result had been attained, and that

Peter’s assurance here is in some measure a transcript of his own experience.

 

So long as we are on this earth and in this body, we shall be subject to variations

both in the clearness of our perceptions of religious truth and in the warmth of our

religious emotions, but God’s grace is able to diminish the range of our

perceptions and emotions so that there shall not be so many degrees between

our highs and lows and to bring about a gradual approximation to a uniformity in

which emotion shall be converted into steadfast principle. If we are to be thus

established, we must open our hearts for the entry of the grace which will

 steady us, and so we find, a verse or two before our text, that the apostle has

bid his readers be “steadfast in the faith,” where he employs a word which is

cognate with that here used. Faith knits us to God, and sets wide the portals

of the heart that the flood of His power may enter in. If we trust Him, He will hold

us up.  If we set the Lord at our right hands, we shall not be moved. Our hearts

are changeful, and our temperaments may be impulsive and fickle, but

God’s grace is given us to help us to conquer our temperaments and

change our dispositions. If we will let it work its work upon us, it will

make us partakers of an inviolable and unshaken evenness of soul, which is

a faint shadow of GOD’S OWN UNCHANGEABLENESS!

 

God never bids us do what he does not strengthen us to do. And the feeblest

Christian may cherish the triumphant assurance given to us all here that he

will get all the power he needs for work, warfare, and sorrow. How will

the strength come? It will be breathed into us by the communication of the

mighty Spirit who dwells in all Christian souls. He is the Comforter, in the

proper meaning of that word — the Strengthener, by whose companionship all

weakness is invigorated, and the whole nature quickened into higher energy. We

shall be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man (Ephesians

3:16).  It will come by the increase of faith; for dependence on God of

itself brings strength, and to be persuaded that we have Him to lean on

makes the weak strong. It will come from self-control and self-denial; for

the life purged of that taint is strong.

 

“My strength is as the strength of ten,

Because my heart is pure.”

 

AN INDWELLING GOD  will be the glory of our strength, and,

possessing His grace, “the weakest may be as David, and David as an

angel of God.”  (Zechariah 12:8)

 

We shall be fixed on the foundation.  (θεμελιώσει – themeliosei - to put, place;

settle; may be founding)  - some texts have θεμελιόωthemelioo – to lay

a foundation, used metaphorically, and translated “settle” - The Revised Version

omits the word “settle,”  and is probably correct in doing so. In

addition to the external evidence against it, we may notice that it conveys

an idea of a somewhat different order to those of the preceding verbs,

inasmuch as it introduces the thought of a foundation external to us, while

they pointed entirely to inward processes. That very difference in the point

of view may have been the reason for the insertion of the word, which,

even if it be spurious, conveys a very striking and important concluding

thought. All the preceding assurances will only be realized in proportion

AS WE ARE FIXED AND ABIDE ON THE ONE FOUNDATION!

This unmoved repose on it is expressed by that final word “settle.” All repair

of our manifold imperfections and sins, all fixity of character and purpose,

all strength for service or for suffering, comes from UNION WITH

CHRIST THE FOUNDATION!  Our organic oneness with Him is not only

like the resting of a building on the rock, it is like the rooting of a tree in the ground

from which it draws nourishment; and, more wonderful still, is like the union of a

branch with the stem from which it draws life (John 15:1-8).  If we rest by faith

on Jesus Christ, we have a basis for our thoughts, a foundation on which we can

build holy, strenuous, and blessed lives. We have union with THE PERSONAL

SOURCE OF ALL COMPLETENESS, of all resolute self-command and

heroic persistence, as well as of all strength. If we keep near to Christ, His life

will pass into our deadness, and all our needs will be supplied from that fullness

of which all who believe receive, and grace for grace.  (John 1:16)

 

11 “To him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”

Power  is a better word than “dominion.” When God promises us power

or gives us to experience power, it becomes us TO ASCRIBE POWER

TO HIM!   As we shall be receiving accessions of power through the

ages of ages, our ascriptions of power can never end. As our ascriptions are

so defective at their best, we seek to have them intensified by adding our

“Amen.”  This doxology occurs also in ch.4:11, where see notes. The best

manuscripts omit the word “glory” in this place.  Peter has been

directing the thoughts of his readers to the power of God. He will make

them perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle them; He can, for “HIS IS

THE MIGHT FOR EVER AND EVER!”  The Christian may well

say his “Amen” with a thankful and adoring heart.

 

12 “By Silvanus, a faithful brother unto you, as I suppose, I have

written briefly,” -  rather, as in the Revised Version, by Silvanus, our

faithful brother, as I account him, I have written unto you briefly. The

preposition “by” - διά - dia - has the same sense as διὰ χειρός – dia cheiros –

by or through hand - in Acts 15:23.  Silvanus was the bearer of the Epistle;

he may have been the amanuensis also. In all probability he is the Silas of the

Acts of the Apostles, and the Silvanus whose name Paul associates with his own

in the address of both Epistles to the Thessalonians; he is mentioned also in

II  Corinthians 1:19. As the companion of Paul, he must have been known

to the Churches of Asia Minor. The word rendered in the Authorized

Version “I suppose” - λογίζομαι – logizomai – I suppose; I am

reckoning - does not imply any doubt (compare Romans 3:28; 8:18; Hebrews

11:19). The Christians of Asia Minor knew Silvanus as a faithful brother; Peter

adds his testimony. Some connect it with the clause, I have written unto you

briefly,” as if Peter meant to say that he regarded his letter as a short one, the

subjects being so important; but this does not seem natural. It is better to take the

pronoun uJmi~nhumin - unto you, with the verb “I have written,” than with

the words, “a faithful brother,” as in the Authorized Version. The verb ἔγραψα

egrapsa – I have written -  is the epistolary aorist (This is the use of the aorist in

the espistles in which the author self-consciously describes his letter from the time

frame of the audience), and may therefore be rendered “I write” - “exhorting,

and testifying” - The general tone of this Epistle is hortatory (marked by

strong urging):  Peter comforts his readers in the sufferings which were coming on

them, and exhorts them to patient endurance. The word rendered “testifying”

ἐπιμαρτυρῶν – epimarturon – testifying; witnessing - occurs only here in the

New Testament. Bengel and others take the preposition ἐπί - epi – in addition.

Peter adds his testimony to that of Paul and others who have gone before; or, he

not only exhorts, he also testifies — the testimony is in addition to the exhortation.

But more probably the ἐπί is intensive, or expresses simply the direction of the

testifying (compare Acts 2:40, where the same words nearly; the Greek for

“testified” is διεμαρτύρατο – diemarturato - are used in describing Peter’s

exhortations) - “that this is the true grace of God wherein ye stand.”

rather, as in the Revised Version, that this is the true grace of God: stand ye

 fast therein. The reading εἰς η}ν στῆτε – eis aen staete – wherein ye

stand -  is supported by the oldest manuscripts. The construction involves a

common ellipse, “Into which (having entered) stand fast.” Some think that it

was Peter’s intention in these words to set the seal of his apostolic authority

upon the truth of the teaching which the Christians of Asia Minor had

received from Paul. It may be so. The whole Epistle corroborates the

teaching of Paul, and shows Peter’s exact agreement with it. But it

seems probable that, if Peter had thought it necessary to give a formal

sanction to Paul’s preaching, he would have done so plainly, as he does

at the end of the Second Epistle (ch.3:15-16). Again, there are no traces in the

Epistle of any doubts now existing in the minds of the Asiatic Christians, or of

any opposition to Paul, such as there once had been in the Churches of

Corinth and Galatia. And Peter does not say, “These are the true

doctrines,” but “This is the true grace of God.” He seems rather to be

giving the testimony o£ his knowledge and spiritual experience to the fact

that the grace which they had received CAME INDEED FROM GOD

and that it was His true grace, that it was He who was working within

 them both to will and to do. They must stand fast in that grace, and by its

help work out their own salvation.

 

13 “The church that is at Babylon, elected together with you, saluteth

you;” - literally, the co-elect in Babylon -  ἡ ἐν Βαβυλῶνι συνεκλεκτή  -

hae en Babuloni suneklektae – elect together with.  The word “Church” is

given in no manuscripts with the remarkable exception of the Sinaitic; the rest

have simply “the co-elect.” We ask — What word is to be supplied, “Church”

or “sister”? Some think that Peter’s wife (compare Matthew 8:14; I Corinthians

9:5) is intended, or some other well-known Christian woman (compare II John 1:1).

In favor of this view is the following salutation from Marcus. It is more

natural to join together the names of two persons than to couple a Church

with an individual. Also it scorns exceedingly improbable that such a word

as “Church” should be omitted (a word, we may remark, which occurs

nowhere in Peter’s Epistles), and the ellipse left to be filled up by the

readers. On the other hand, it is said to be unlikely that a humble Galilaean

woman should be described as “the co-elect in Babylon.” This argument

would have considerable weight if the apostle were writing from large and

well-known Church, like that at Rome; but it is quite possible that “the co-elect”

might be the only Christian woman, or the one best known among a

very small number in Babylon. On the whole, it seems most probable to us

that by “the co-elect” (whether we supply “together with you” or “with

me”) is meant a Christian woman known at least by name to the Churches

of Asia Minor, and therefore very possibly Peter’s wife, who, Paul

tells us, was his companion in travel. The question now meets us — Is

Babylon” to be taken in a mystic sense, as a cryptograph for Rome, or

literally? Eusebius, and ancient writers generally, understand it of Rome.

Eusebius is commonly understood to claim for this view the authority of

Papias and Clement of Alexandria. But the historian’s words (‘Hist. Eccl.,’

1. 15. 2) seem to claim that authority only for the connection of Peter with Mark’s

Gospel; the identification of Babylon with Rome seems to be mentioned only as a

common opinion in the time of Eusebius. It is said that there is no trace of

the existence of a Christian Church at the Chaldean Babylon, and no proof,

apart from this passage, that Peter was ever there. There had been a

great Jewish colony at Babylon, but it had been destroyed in the time of

Caligula. In answer to these arguments, it may be urged that the

cryptograph of Babylon for Rome would probably not be understood; even

if we assume the earliest date assigned to the Apocalypse, that book could

scarcely be known very generally in Asia Minor when this Epistle was

written. Peter at Babylon, like Paul at Athens, may have met with

little success; the infant Church may have been quickly crushed. There may

have been a second settlement of Jews at Babylon between A.D. 40 and

the date of this Epistle. But it is quite possible that Peter may have been

working as a missionary among the Babylonian Gentiles, for we cannot

believe that he confined his ministrations to the Jews. On the whole, it

seems much more probable that Peter was writing at the famous city on

the Euphrates, though no traces of his work there remain, than that he

should have used this one word in a mystical sense at the end of an Epistle

where all else is plain and simple -   “and so doth Marcus my son.”

Τέκνον - teknon – child -  is the word used by Paul of spiritual relationship

(see I Timothy 1:2; II Timothy 1:2; Titus 1:4). Peter has υἱός – huios – son –

here. Still, it seems most probable that Marcus, mentioned as he is without any

further description, is not a son of the apostle after the flesh, but the well-known

John Mark of the Acts. Peter calls him his son, as Paul calls Timothy his

son in the faith (I Timothy 1:2).  Peter knew the mother of John

whose surname was Mark (Acts 12:12); he may have been the means

of converting her son. Mark, like Silvanus, was one of the links between

the two great apostles; he had been with Paul in his first imprisonment

at Rome (Colossians 4:10). Then he was about to travel into Asia

Minor; now, it seems, he had joined Peter at Babylon. He had once

shrunk from hardships and dangers (Acts 15:38); now he had learned

steadfastness and Christian courage — he worked now with Peter

among fierce heathen and fanatical Jews. Paul, who once “thought it

not good to take him,” desired his help and sympathy (II Timothy 4:11);

he would be profitable for the ministry at Rome, as doubtless he was

at Babylon. Rome and Babylon were the extreme points then reached by

Christian missionaries. Christ’s Church is dispersed throughout the world;

its center of unity is Christ the Lord; its members should be united in faith

and love.

 

14 “Greet ye one another with a kiss of charity.” - Paul gives the same

direction in four places (Romans 16:16; I Corinthians 16:20; II Corinthians 13:12;

I Thessalonians 5:26). The practice seems to have been universal in early times;

it is mentioned by Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Chrysostom, Augustine, and other

ancient writers. It is now used only in the Coptic Church of Egypt. Rites and

ceremonies may be changed “according to the diversities of countries, times,

and men’s manners;” the sacred duty of brotherly love remains unchanged

forever.  “Peace be with you all that are in Christ Jesus. Amen.”

The most ancient manuscripts omit the word “Jesus” here and the “Amen”?

Paul’s blessing at the end of his Epistles is usually “grace” (in the Epistle to the

Ephesians he adds “peace”). Peter ends his Epistle with the benediction which

he had so often heard from the Savior’s lips. That blessed gift of peace is granted

to all who are “in Christ,” who is our Peace (Ephesians 2:14).

 

Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied,” Peter had said at the opening of his

Epistle; he closes it with the like holy farewell: “Peace be with you all that are in

Christ Jesus.” We can express no better wish for our friends. The peace of God

passeth all understanding (Philippians 4:7);  but they only can have that blessed

peace who are in Christ.  For it is His peace; He giveth it; it cometh to His chosen

through intimate spiritual communion with the Lord. May we share that deep

blessedness!

 

 

                              Conclusion of the Epistle (vs.10-14)

 

Peter has finished his work of exhortation and encourages his readers to look

to God. Human teachers can only deliver their message; it is God Himself who

giveth strength to obey. They must look unto Jesus ἀφορῶντες – aphorontes –

- look; to consider attentitively - Hebrews 12:2); they must look away from the

troubles which were surrounding them — their light affliction, which was but

for a moment, to the Author and Finisher of their faith. And that because it is

by grace that men are saved, and God is the God of all grace. All the various

manifestations of grace — pardoning grace, sanctifying grace, supporting grace —

all flow from Him who is the Fountain of grace. That grace is sufficient for the

Christian in all his trials, however great and many they may be. It is made

perfect in weakness (II Corinthians 12:9).  It was God who began the good

work, and He will complete it (I Thessalonians 5:24).  He giveth more grace

(James 4:6).  THE FOUNTAIN OF GRACE IS EVER OPEN, EVER

FLOWING!  (Zechariah 13:1) “The Spirit and the bride say, Come.... And

whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17).

We may come always, and come boldly; for it was God who first called us.

And it was His own eternal glory to which He called us; not to a transient

enjoyment of His presence, nor to a few feeble intermittent efforts, but to

His own eternal glory. This was the very end and purpose for which He called

us. But for this He would not have called us at all; for the God of truth doth

not mock men with vain promises. The glory to which He called us is eternal;

then He will not desert us in the midst of our course, but will complete His

gracious work. It is His glory, true, real glory. All here that is so named, is no

more than a name, a shadow of glory; it cannot endure the balance, but is found

light The glory above is true, real glory, and bears weight, and so bears aright

the name of glory, the term for which in the Hebrew signifies ‘weight;’ and the

apostle’s expression seems to allude to that sense; speaking of this same glory to

come, he calls it ‘a far more exceeding weight of glory’  (II Corinthians 4:17).

 It weighs down all labor and sufferings in the way, so far as that they are not

worth the speaking of in respect of it. It is the hyperbole, καθ’ὑπερβολὴν εἰς

ὑπερβολὴν – kath huperbolaen eis huperbolaen – far more exceeding;

transcendence into transcendence.  Other glory is over-spoken, but this glory

is over-glorious to be duly spoken; it exceeds and rises above all that can be

spoken of it.” IT IS THIS TO WHICH GOD HATH CALLED US and He

hath called us in Christ. The grace by which the spiritual life is given, sustained,

strengthened, comes through union with Christ. That life flows from Christ,

who is the Life, through all the members of His mystical body. As long as we

abide in Christ we are safe, for then He abideth in us, and the life that comes

from Christ dieth not; it will live on, growing from grace to grace, from strength

to strength, TILL IT REACHES THAT ETERNAL GLORY!

 

 

  • WHAT GOD WILL DO FOR US.

 

Ø      He will make us perfect. There is much which is lacking in our

                  faith; there are many stains, many rents, in what should be the

white robe of righteousness. It is, alas! like filthy rags (Isaiah

64:6).  But God will repair that which is torn, and cleanse that

which is defiled. Our characters show many faults, many

shortcomings, many stains of past sins. But let us not despair. It

was God who began the work; He will complete it. Let us do our

poor best to work out our own salvation, and He will work within

us both to will and to do; for He is faithful  (Philippians 2:12-13).

(See Psalm 138:8),

 

Ø      He will “stablish” us. We are unstable; we are easily driven this way

and that by the changeful currents of temptation. Our course is marked

by much wavering, much inconstancy. This is the reason why we make

so little progress. If we are not to fall short of the glory of God, we must

run, not as uncertainly, but with a firm and steadfast step, with our eyes

fixed upon the prize of the high calling (I Corinthians 9:24-27). It is that

glory to which God hath called us. He will stablish us if we persevere

and if we pray.

 

Ø      He will “strengthen” us. Our adversary is strong — strong as a roaring

lion; but the Lion of the tribe of Judah is stronger. He will bruise Satan

under our feet (Romans 16:20). He is the Strength of His chosen; through

Him they can do all things (Philippians 4:13). “He giveth power to the

faint; and to them that have no might He increaseth strength”  (Isaiah

40:29.  For He does not leave His people to wrestle alone against the

evil one; He endues them with power from on high (I Corinthians

10:13) — the power of the presence of the Spirit of God. With that

presence there comes the gift of strength — power and strength to

have the victory (John 1:112), and to triumph against the devil, the

world, and the flesh (I John 2:15-17).

 

Ø      He will “settle” us. He hath built His Church upon a Rock, and

THAT ROCK IS CHRIST!   He will build up each faithful Christian

as a living stone (ch. 2:5) upon that one Foundation once laid,

“which is Jesus Christ” (I Corinthians 3:11). That Foundation is

“like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but standeth fast for ever”

(Psalm 125:1).  The house built thereupon is safe. The rain may

descend, the floods may come, the winds may blow; they may

beat hard upon the house which is the shelter of the faithful Christian’s

soul; but (thanks be to God through our Lord Jesus Christ) it cannot

fall, for it is founded upon a Rock.  (Matthew 7:24-27)

 

Let us be thankful to God that He can and will make us perfect, stablish,

strengthen, settle us; for His is the might, and that for all the ages of eternity.

His hand is mighty; all might is His. The Christian thankfully and joyfully

acknowledges it. His hand framed the heavens; they declare His glory. (See

Psalm 119:73 – “Thy hands.”   Hilary and Ambrose think that by the plural

"hands" is intimated  that there is a more exact and perfect workmanship in

man, and as if it were with  greater labor and skill he had been formed by God,

because after the image and  likeness to God: and that it is not written that any

other thing but man was made by God with both hands, for he saith in Isaiah,

"Mine hand also hath laid the  foundation of the earth": Isaiah 48:13 – [as if

with one hand tied behind His back] – CY – 2012 -   John Lorinus, 1569-1634.

This, however, is an error, as Augustine notes; for it is written, "The

heavens are the work of thine hands." (Psalm 102:25. — Charles Haddon

Spurgeon.)  His hand is over His elect; they set forth His praises. The same

power that sustains the planets in their orbits as they circle round the sun

ORDERS THE COURSE OF THE HUMBLEST BELIEVER AS HE

DRAWS NEARER AND NEARER TO THE SUN OF RIGHTEOUSNESS!

His heart is filled with thankful adoration when he reflects on the power of

God, and remembers that that power is exerted for his defense, and makes

all things work together for his eternal good. Praise becometh saints; they

must ascribe unto the Lord worship and power (Psalm 68:34). In heaven they

rest not day and night, saying, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty,

which was and is and is to come”  (Revelation 4:8).   The saints on

earth are learning the new song, practicing the anthems of heaven. They

delight in thanksgiving; they delight to contemplate with adoring love the

majesty of God, and to add their “Amen” to the high chant of praise.

 

 

 

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