The Latter Epistles – 1 Peter 2

Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.  Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.
As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.  For in Scripture it says:
“See, I lay a stone in Zion,
    a chosen and precious cornerstone,
and the one who trusts in him
    will never be put to shame.”
Now to you who believe, this stone is precious.  But to those who do not believe,
“The stone the builders rejected
    has become the cornerstone,”
“A stone that causes people to stumble
    and a rock that makes them fall.”
They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for.
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.  Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul.  Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.
Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right.  For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people.  Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves.  Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.
Slaves, in reverent fear of God submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh.  For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God.  But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it?  But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God.  To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.
“He committed no sin,
    and no deceit was found in his mouth.”
When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats.  Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.  “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.”  For “you were like sheep going astray,” but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

  • 1 Peter 2:1-25

Noted Biblical Scholars, Teachers, and Preachers Comments

1 Peter 2:1-3 ‘put off what is evil’: “1. The sins to be put off, or thrown aside.  Malice is settled overgrown anger, retained till it inflames a man to design mischief.  Guile, or deceit in words.  Hypocrisies.  The word being plural comprehends all sorts of hypocrisies.  Envies; which is a grieving at the good and welfare of another.  Evil speaking, speaking against another, or defaming him.
“2. The best Christians have need to be cautioned and warned against the worst sins. …
“II. The apostle, like a wise physician, goes on to direct to wholesome food, that they may grow thereby.  The duty exhorted to is a strong and constant desire for the word of God.  This milk of the word must be sincere, not adulterated. …
“… The apostle does not express a doubt, but affirms that these good Christians had tasted the goodness of God.  Our Lord Jesus Christ is very gracious to his people; he has in him a fulness of grace. …”

  • Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary (Scripture quotations are not in bold/italics)

1 Peter 2:4-8 ‘stones in the same building’: “There is only one Saviour, Jesus Christ, and only one spiritual building, the church.  Jesus Christ is the chief cornerstone of the church (Eph. 2:20), binding the building together.  Whether we agree with each other or not, all true Christians belong to each other as stones in God’s building.
“Peter gave a full description of Jesus Christ, the stone.  He is a living stone because He was raised from the dead in victory.  He is the chosen stone of the Father, and He is precious.  Peter quotes Isaiah 28:16 and Psalm 118:22 in his description and pointed out that Jesus Christ, though chosen by God, was rejected by men.  He was not the king of Messiah they were expecting, so they stumbled over Him. … Though rejected by men, Jesus Christ was exalted by God!”

  • Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Hopeful

1 Peter 2:6 ‘never put to shame’: “All Christ has promised to be, he will be to those who trust him.  Christians will never have any cause to be ashamed of Jesus upon whom they believe.  They shall never be driven to confess that they made a mistake in trusting him and are, therefore, ashamed at having been so miserably duped.  To risk all with Jesus is to end all risk.”

  • Charles H. Spurgeon, from his sermon notes

1 Peter 2:9-10 ‘drawing a line between the church and the world’: “Paul explained to the Galatians the difference between the bond child and the free: ‘But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the spirit, even so it is now’ (Galatians 4:29).
“So throughout the entire New Testament a sharp line is drawn between the Church and the world.  There is no middle ground.  The Lord recognizes no good-natured ‘agreeing to disagree’ so that the followers of the Lamb may adopt the world’s ways and travel along the world’s path.  The gulf between the true Christian and the world is as great as that which separated the rich man and Lazarus.  And furthermore it is the same gulf, that is, it is the gulf that divides this world of ransomed from the world of fallen men.
“I well know and feel deeply, how offensive such teaching as this must be to the great flock of worldlings which mills around the traditional sheepfold.  I cannot hope to escape the charge of bigotry and intolerance which will undoubtedly be brought against me by the confused religionists who seek to make themselves sheep by association.  But we may as well face the hard truth that men do not become Christians by associating with church people, nor by religious contact, nor by religious education; they become Christians only by invasion of their nature by the Spirit of God in the new birth.  And when they do thus become Christians they are immediately members of a new race, ‘a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people … which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.’
“In the verses quoted there has been no wish to quote out of context nor to focus attention upon one side of truth to draw it away from another.  The teaching of these passages is altogether one with all New Testament truth.  It is as if we dipped a cup of water from the sea.  What we took out would not be all the water in the ocean, but it would be a true sample and would perfectly agree with the rest.”

  • A. W. Tozer, God’s Pursuit of Man

1 Peter 2:11 ‘works of the flesh’: “The child of God is to publish His praises.  In what way?  By singing hymns?  Well, it is all right to do it that way, but you can better show forth His praises by not manifesting the works of the flesh.  Earlier Peter has told us that the works of the flesh are malice, guile, hypocrisies, envies, and slander.  We publish His praises by displaying our attitudes which have been shaped by the Word of God.”

  • J. Vernon McGee, First Peter – Thru the Bible Commentary Series

1 Peter 2:23 ‘People insulted Christ’: “Someone you love or respect slams you to the floor with a slur or slip of the tongue.  And there you lie, wounded and bleeding.  Perhaps the words were intended to hurt you, perhaps not; but that doesn’t matter.  The wound is deep.  The injuries are internal.  Broken heart, wounded pride, bruised feelings.
“If you have suffered or are suffering because of someone else’s words, you’ll be glad to know that there is a balm for this laceration.  Meditate on these words from 1 Peter 2:23: ‘People insulted Christ, but he did not insult them in return … He let God, the One who judges rightly, take care of him.’
“Did you see what Jesus did? … He left the judging to God.  He did not take on the task of seeking revenge.  He demanded no apology … He, to the astounding contrary, spoke on their defense.  ‘Father, forgive them, because they don’t know what they are doing’ (Luke 23:34).”

  • Max Lucado, No Wonder They Call Him the Savior

1 Peter 2:24 ‘He bore our sins’: “There was a substitution for our sins, and by that substitution believers are saved.  The Lord Jesus Christ bore the punishment that was due to us.  The offended God stooped from his glory so that he might save those who dared to rebel against his glory.  The infinitely glorious Son of God became a sin-bearer.  He had pity on us, became one of us, and bore our sins.  The priest of old brought a lamb as a substitute, but our Lord Jesus Christ had no substitute for himself.  Let us remember that everything he did for us, he did himself.  The heart that was broken for our sins was his heart, and the life given up was his life.”

  • Charles H. Spurgeon, from his sermon notes

My Thoughts

Again, Peter packs so much into a few verses.  Matthew Henry sets the stage for the sins that need to be put off.  Why is this needed?  Maybe the corollary to Peter’s next statement is a good example.  The corollary would be to deny infancy and start with solid food.  Peter suggests we drink spiritual milk, for we are babies.  We discussed in Hebrews 5 how the author was chastising the people because they needed to move on from milk to solid food.  They needed to grow.  But here, Peter is showing an insight into human nature.  When we become Christians, we are filled with the Holy Spirit.  The Joy and Love in our hearts causes us to want to conquer the world, but we are babies, infants.  If we boldly go out before we have at least grown into toddlers, we could easily fall prey to malice, deceit, hypocrisies, envies, and slander.  A child is too easily deceived, and as a teen-ager or an adult who just became a Christian, our pride (yet another problem) tries to say that we should immediately go to solid food without drinking the milk.  Could it be that the full portion of Christ, the Rock, the cornerstone, only ingests as spiritual milk, and we must humbly drink it?

In thinking of my old lay-witness mission days, the main speakers throughout each revival weekend were always the seasoned members of the team, with the team leader always giving his testimony at the Sunday morning worship service.  The newly converted testimonies were powerful, but not much substance, as they had yet much life after meeting Jesus.  The testimonies were fresh.  But the seasoned members had lived the Christian life longer and had overcome more hurdles.  Their testimonies had depth.  They tugged more heart strings.

And then Peter quotes Scripture.  It is very significant that Peter quotes Isaiah 28:16.  In Acts 4:11, Peter quotes Psalm 118:22.  There are 13 mentions of the word “cornerstone” in the NIV.  Peter mentioned the word twice in this chapter, quoting one of the Old Testament verses that uses the word.  Peter quoted a different verse in his address to the Sanhedrin.  And three other times “cornerstone” is used is in the synoptic Gospels as Jesus quotes Psalm 118:22 in Matthew, Mark, and Luke.  This accounts for over half the uses of “cornerstone” in the Bible.  Thus, Peter is driving this point home.  Jesus is the cornerstone.  Any thought of creating a church without Jesus will lead to failure.

And the subtle change in “cornerstone” verses is significant.  The Psalm 118:22 connection is a prophecy to the rejection of the true cornerstone, necessary for Christ to suffer and die for our sins.  That substitution sacrifice has been made, and now we can build upon the cornerstone.  The Isaiah 28:16 connection is with the chosen cornerstone that provides a trusted foundation.

Peter starts with us drinking baby’s milk, but he immediately shifts gears.  He speaks of how the people had stumbled and fell, but now the believers in Jesus are a new nation and that new nation must go out and declare God’s praises in the darkness.  Peter is not mincing words.  He is not saying that we should sing hymns inside our little (or not so little) church and feel good about ourselves.  Peter is talking of the darkness, the world outside the “sanctuary.”  Why should we do this?  Because we were once not a nation nor had we been shown mercy, now we have both of those things and we know people who are out there in the darkness.  Should they not seek the light?  Maybe they do not know that light exists?  We are to show the way.

But then, Peter gives a slight glimpse into the response that we might get as we share the Gospel.  The pagans in our midst will accuse us of all sorts of false accusations.  Yet, we should live good lives so that the pagans can honestly find no fault and praise God.  It is not that we are “better than them.”  We simply – and oh how it is not so simple -live a life seeking to emulate Jesus.  We basically live to a standard that is humanly, at least in this life, impossible to achieve with no comparisons to the pagan lives around us.  There must be a total division between this world and the church.  That includes comparisons such as better and worse.

The next paragraph is getting harder each day, much harder in many more “progressive” countries.  Peter admonishes us to submit ourselves to the local authorities.  We should be law abiding citizens.  If we have a freedom to speak, we must speak.  It is becoming painfully obvious in the USA that when we do not use that freedom, it quickly gets taken away.  Political Correctness is the rule of the day, and those in charge of the PC lexicon wish to silence Christianity.  We are even being called what some have called the new “N-word,” Neanderthals.  Funny how princes and princesses of the PC world can condemn others for calling people names, yet when they do it, it is applauded.

And I have written about the next paragraph, beginning with the word “Slaves” many times.  There is still slavery in the world.  Some of this slavery is openly pronounced while others are in illegal bondage.  But this paragraph discusses doing a good job, going the extra mile to make the resulting job the best of our ability.  This applies to each of us as we do our work.  While it became painfully obvious in my work life that I would never be rewarded for a job well done, other than maintaining my employment during many lean years, I continued to do my best, because of these verses.  In many cases, when I submitted a completed project for my boss’ approval, in my mind I made a conscious thought that I was really laying the project at the feet of God, my Father.  It had to be my best effort.

And yet, when we do our best and act without malice toward anyone, they will hurl insults at us.  They will accuse us falsely.  But thinking of those projects at my old workplace, I created training programs to help the customer’s employees learn and become better employees.  The insults that I received for doing my job well was that the company that I worked for was only interested in making money and if the customer made less mistakes, it might hurt our company’s bottom line.  In that respect, I was being condemned by the people who hired me to do the work for doing my work too well.  In a very odd way, not a false accusation at all, but oh, how so many insults were hurled.

And when we have insults hurled our way, especially for doing an excellent job, where do we turn?

We turn to the Good Shepherd, Jesus.

Some Serendipitous Reflections

“1. If you were a war correspondent reporting from the front, how would you describe the war going on within yourself (v.11)?
“2. In what dark rooms of yourself has God turned on a light?
“3. How does it make you feel to be chosen, royalty, and God’s possession?  When is it most difficult to remember what God has made you?
“4. If you were to build a spiritual house from the living stones in your group, where would each member be positioned (walls, roof, telephone line, etc.) to realize his or her gifts?  How does this fit who you are in Christ?
“1. What ‘authorities’ are over you?  How do you apply verses 16-17 in those relationships?
“2. Peter wrote to a people who had no civil or employee rights.  How would his advice be different to people in a country (or position) where their legal rights were being violated by authority gone bad (see Ac. 16:35-37)?
“3. How could Jesus’ example help when you face hardships you can’t change?  How do you know when to submit and when to resist?”

  • Lyman Coleman, et al, The NIV Serendipity Bible for Study Groups

This chapter of 1 Peter was split into two study sessions in the Serendipity Bible.

Question 4 is designed for group use, but you can modify it to those people in your Sunday school class or some other group.  First, note, in a parallel to Paul’s discussion of each Christian being a part of the body, this question makes it sound like leadership roles for each person in building a new church, but this chapter begins with us being stones in the building.  You get action in your mind when thinking of body parts, but God does the work or salvation, we simply exist in His Love.  Being a stone is simply existing.  But in answering the question, as a building part, you would need to know something about what the need for those parts would be.  You might get some very interesting answers.  But also notice that there is no mention in the building parts of the question about the foundation.  Without a firm foundation, we cannot build a sound structure.  Jesus is the cornerstone, and He must be the foundation, along with God’s Word, the Bible.  All else is built upon that.

If you like these Thursday morning Bible studies, but you think you missed a few, you can use this LINK. I have set up a page off the home page for links to these Thursday morning posts. I will continue to modify the page as I add more.

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

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