1 Peter Chapter 2: Christian Character, Offices of Jesus

Oct 23rd, 2009 | By | Category: 1 & 2 Peter, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

1 Peter Chapter 2:  Christian Character, Offices of Jesus

1 Pet. 2:1 Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings,

“Wherefore” refers to the last two verses of Chapter 1. “All flesh is as grass.” The thought is as follows: Time is passing quickly. Life is very short. The more time we spend on problems, difficulties, evil speaking, ill will, etc., the less time we have for spiritual things. It will not be long until we are in the grave, so we should not waste time on malice, guile, hypocrisies, envies, or evil speakings.

This admonition reminds us of Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 5:7,8 regarding the Passover: “Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” Leavened bread is likened to malice and wickedness; unleavened bread, to sincerity and truth. Bread (1 Cor. 5:7) and milk (1 Pet. 2:2) are both foundation food; that is, the Christian needs to feed on pure unadulterated bread and milk as fast as possible.

Many Jewish Christians fled to Asia Minor when a great persecution arose in Judea (1 Pet. 1:1).

Imagine the courage of Peter and others who remained behind in Jerusalem and Judea! Now Peter is addressing those who fled from the persecution and took up residence in Asia Minor.

Thus these general epistles of Peter were slanted toward Jewish Christians, but they have an application, especially along prophetic lines, to Gentile Christians as well.

1 Pet. 2:2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:

1 Peter 1:2 shows that this epistle was addressed to those who had already consecrated, generally speaking. Yet Peter considers these Christians as relatively new in the truth, as “babes.” He is advising them to spend their time and energy getting the rudiments of truth as fast as possible. Why? so that they will “grow.” Other translations say “grow to salvation,” which is better than the King James Version’s “grow thereby.” A confirmation that “grow to salvation” is the thought is that Chapter 1 refers to the Church’s salvation several times (1 Pet. 1:5,9).

1 Pet. 2:3 If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.

1 Pet. 2:4 To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious,

1 Pet. 2:5 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.

1 Pet. 2:6 Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Zion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.

Verses 4–6 refer to a pyramid. 1 Peter 1 alludes to the Passover and the Tabernacle with the silver and gold and the sprinkling of blood. Peter also said (1 Pet. 1:3) that the disciples were begotten again unto a lively hope through the resurrection of Jesus. Now in 1 Peter 2:4,5 Jesus is called a “living stone,” and the Church are referred to as “living stones.” In his epistles, Peter reflects his own emotional experiences when he was with Jesus. These experiences made a deep impression on him, and he weaves them into his epistles. Here he is alluding to his confession that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus then said the apostle’s name was “Peter” (petros), a piece of rock, as compared with the rock foundation truth about Jesus, the truth upon which the Church would be built. “Life” was a big subject to Peter.

Not long after that, Jesus said, “Except [unless] ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you” (John 6:53). From that time forth, many forsook him for making such a strong statement. (Under the Law, it was sacrilegious to drink blood.) Then Jesus asked those who remained and did not forsake him, “Why have you stayed?” Peter replied, “Thou [only] hast the words of eternal life” (John 6:68). Again Peter interjected the thought of life.

Being very practical, he said that all flesh is as grass, which withers and dies (1 Pet. 1:24). He was interested in life, in a future, for all the glitter around him, no matter how beautiful, just goes into the grave. Only Christ had the message of hope and life. When Jesus was crucified, Peter’s hopes almost perished too. But when God raised Jesus, the disciples were begotten again unto a living hope; that is, Peter’s quest for life was revitalized by the resurrection.

Thus there is a lot behind the thought of Jesus being a living stone. Not only is Jesus a real, animate being, but only he has the words of life! And Peter’s own name (“stone”) is in this picture.

Verse 5: The Church, as living stones, are built up into a spiritual house (pyramid), conforming to the image of Christ, the top stone of the Pyramid. All the stones underneath conform to the top stone in a pyramid structure.

The term “holy priesthood” reminds us of the Tabernacle and the Temple. Also, God promised in Exodus 19:5,6 that if the nation of Israel would obey His voice, they would be a “peculiar treasure” to Him, a “kingdom of priests,” and a “holy nation.” The Tabernacle and the Temple predominated in a lot of Peter’s thinking.

The Church is to offer up “spiritual sacrifices” through Jesus. The word “spiritual” is omitted in some of the ancient manuscripts, but it is in the Diaglott. To include or omit the word does not necessarily change the meaning, however. As to how it is interpreted has a lot to do with the time application. One way would not change the meaning; another way would. The Pastor preferred to omit the word because he said we do not sacrifice spiritual things but, rather, earthly things (i.e., restitution, earthly hopes and ambitions, material things). Nevertheless, we should not sacrifice spiritual interests and time, as some do, but should try to preserve them for serving the Lord.

The other way to consider the word “spiritual”—that is, as being included—is that Peter was contrasting the literal animal sacrifices of the Law Covenant with what the Christian would sacrifice now. Anything the Christian gives up for the right motive (and even the things he must do to provide things decent, needful, and honest for himself and his family) is counted toward his spiritual reward.

Verse 6: God places or sets (“lays”) in Zion a chief cornerstone (Jesus). In one sense, the top stone has already been laid, even though the whole building underneath (i.e., the Church) has not been united to it (i.e., to Jesus). The risen, exalted Lord has been tried, proven, and elected. The Church down here are trying to conform their lives to the pattern already set—and to grow up into that building.

Notice the last half of the verse: “He that believeth on him shall not be confounded [ashamed, run about in a distracted way].” This text comes from Isaiah 28:16, where it has a different ending: “He that believeth shall not make haste.” The thoughts harmonize if we note the context. Peter is not directly quoting but is applying the principle of what Isaiah meant.

Why did Peter mention that he who believes on Jesus shall not be confounded? One reason was to help those Christians in Asia Minor who were being persecuted. Jesus was the sure foundation in contradistinction to the insecurity they were experiencing according to the flesh.

Along another line, Isaiah 8:14 says that the stone was a stone of stumbling. This thought will be discussed under 1 Peter 2:8.

1 Pet. 2:7 Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner,

1 Pet. 2:8 And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.

On the one hand, the “top stone” (Jesus) was rejected of men and disallowed at the First Advent; hence it was a source of stumbling. On the other hand, to the Christian, the “top stone” is a foundation stone—a precious foundation.

From the narrow perspective of the literal laborers building the literal Great Pyramid, the top stone was a misfit, so they rejected it hastily. They had no understanding of what its purpose was. And so it was with the antitype. When Jesus came at his First Advent, he was a misfit as far as the priesthood of his day was concerned. He was “bigger” than they—his motives, arrangements, perspectives, etc., were larger and greater—but they rejected him without due, considerate deliberation. Had they analyzed and thought more about Jesus, had they not been too hasty, the priesthood would have put the facts together and realized he was the Messiah. But they were occupying Moses’ seat, and in their envy, they could not see themselves being replaced. They felt that he was the one out of place, whereas in reality, they were the ones out of place. In contrast, those who accepted Jesus at his First Advent did not “make haste.” They pondered the issues, asking, “Is this the Messiah?” “Is this the Son of God?” And as they considered the matter, studying his words, his conduct, the time, etc., they accepted him.

Many of us are emotional bundles, and we size up situations instantly, making snap judgments for good or for bad. As a result, valuable facts are sometimes overlooked. In fact, the issue at hand could even be a turning point in our lives, for which we make a wrong decision because of being too hasty. Had we thought and reflected on the matter, we might have seized on something that would change our entire life in a beneficial way.

The thought in Isaiah 28:16 is that those who did not make haste were not confounded but accepted Jesus. However, the builders, in hasting, found the top stone to be “a stone of stumbling”—just the opposite.

True, the literal top stone back in Shem’s day did not fit the Great Pyramid, for it was too large.

Although it was beautiful and perfected, having required much labor, it did not fit. Therefore, in haste, the builders concluded that a mistake had been made. The top stone was a nuisance to the laborers, but they should have taken time to reflect that there must be a reason for its size, for the Designer could not make a mistake. As for Shem himself, he would have been very puzzled by the size of the top stone, but he did not hastily assume the Designer had erred.

In the future when the Pyramid is refurbished with an enlarged exterior, it will be in line with the top stone. The top stone was built for the future Pyramid dimensions, not for the original dimensions. And that is true of Jesus too. The religious leaders thought Jesus was “too big for his britches”—brash, bold, etc.—when he made such statements as “I will rebuild the temple in three days” (Matt. 26:61). And to claim additionally that he was the Messiah and the Son of God was too much for them. We can, to a large extent, understand how they were deceived and how they misjudged the matter in their haste, but the ones who are especially responsible are

those who had repeated opportunities and thus went against light. Consider the sincere ones like Nathanael, who asked, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” He was momentarily stumbled, but apparently, he prayed to God about the matter. It was too big a decision for him to make alone, so he went under the fig tree to pray. God answered his prayer when Philip called, “Nathanael! Nathanael! We have found the Messiah!” (Jesus was the one from Nazareth he was already troubled about.) When Jesus said to him, “Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!” Nathanael asked, “How do you know me?” Jesus replied, “When you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” Then Nathanael knew for sure that Jesus was the Christ. Thus Nathanael did not make a hasty judgment.

We must beware of prejudice and other factors that would make us render too hasty a judgment. Some accept truth with credulity instead of digging deep to the foundation and proving “all things” (1 Thess. 5:21). True faith is based on understanding.

It is interesting that, as shown in verse 7, the foundation is the top stone rather than the bottom.

This is opposite to the normal building process. Jesus is the “sure foundation” (Isa. 28:16), and the Father is even above Jesus.

This illustration of a reverse viewpoint can be used in principle with the Tabernacle. Certain viewpoints start with the Most Holy and extend outward, showing that God predestined this whole arrangement from the Most Holy to the Holy to the Court to the Camp to outside the Camp. However, the people have to approach in the opposite way, being built up into the image of Christ, the top stone, or progressing inward toward the Most Holy. God, however, looks at matters the other way, starting with what is most holy first. The Ark was conceived by God ahead of the rest of the Tabernacle, the Ark being The Christ, which God had in mind before the other ramifications of His plan were disclosed.

1 Pet. 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:

In the present life, we are a royal priesthood only in a prospective sense. From the finished standpoint in the Kingdom, the Church will offer up the sacrifices of the people. (The Book of Leviticus shows how those who wanted to offer up a certain type of sacrifice brought it to the priest.) However, in the present life, in the Gospel Age, it is the priests themselves who are being consecrated and making their own little offerings.

The sacrifice of praise that the Church offers to God continually in the present life is called “the fruit of our lips.” “Let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name” (Heb. 13:15).

“Ye are … a peculiar people.” Originally “peculiar” had the thought of unique, that is, singular in the sense of being unique. The Church will be a unique precious treasure. The offer of the high calling is peculiar in that it is a one-time offer for a very special class, a class who are favored in a special way. Just as the top stone was disallowed of men and was a “stone of stumbling” but is tried, proven, flawless, finished, and perfect in God’s sight, so the world considers the Church peculiar in the bad sense. However, God views the Church class as peculiar in the good sense, as the apple of His eye! Sometimes the word “peculiar” is translated “redeemed” or “purchased.”

1 Pet. 2:10 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.

Before many of the Jewish Christians accepted Christ, they had been religious-minded, godlyliving people. For example, Peter said in Acts 10:14, “[From my youth up] I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean.” As godly-living people, they had found they were misfits. Although they had a religious bent of mind, the majority were not of the Pharisees or of the educated element but were unlearned. (Exceptions were the Apostle Paul, Joseph of Arimathea, and Nicodemus. Moreover, Paul’s epistles show that some in high positions accepted the gospel.) These individuals had been trying to serve God under the Law but were not fully satisfied with that arrangement. And now that they had accepted Christ, it was even more discomforting because of the persecutions they were getting, as well as still being misfits.

The circumstances might have discouraged them, so Peter was writing to comfort and fortify them. He was saying, “Look at Jesus, who was perfect. He was mistreated, so you should expect the same. Think it not strange concerning the fiery trial that should try you, for here unto you were called. God has been very kind to you. Do not be discouraged by your persecuting experiences. God is looking for this type of individual in the present life, and if faithful, you will be of the future royal generation and receive the great inheritance.”

Peter was trying to encourage them, but he could not promise that the persecutions would cease—that would be a false hope. However, he could give them a hope regarding what faithfulness under these conditions would work out for them in the future. God’s Word may appear to be temporary, but it will bear fruit—everlasting fruit! In spite of some strong words and admonitions later on, there is something very tender about Peter in these epistles.

1 Pet. 2:11 Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;

Peter is addressing especially those Christian Jews who had left the Jerusalem environment to live in Asia Minor under (or amidst) a different culture. As “strangers [exiles] and pilgrims,” they were exposed to new and different temptations in this alien environment (see 1 Peter 1:1).

Peter cautioned these Jewish Christian exiles not only as “strangers” but also as “pilgrims” whose destination is the next life. While they were to submit to every ordinance, they were to be careful they did not have roots there and take up full residence.

1 Pet. 2:12 Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.

Not only were these Jewish Christians exposed to new temptations and onslaughts, but as newcomers with different habits, customs, and conduct, they were a gazing stock and the objects of criticism, mistrust, and misunderstanding. Therefore, they had a double problem: to keep a visual high standard as well as to be very defensive lest the temptations of the new environment pull them down.

Peter was not saying they would be understood in the present life, but they were to live honestly now and conduct themselves in a holy way so that ultimately—in the Kingdom—they would be understood. “In the day of visitation,” the former critics will “glorify God” on behalf of the holy conduct of these Christian Jews. The “day of visitation” is the time when the world will be instructed.

Peter tells the Jewish Christians they will be spoken of as “evildoers.” And this is what usually happens when foreigners come into a country; that is, they are viewed with suspicion whether or not suspicion is justified. Peter says to live honestly, but even though they do so, they will be called evildoers. Persecution in the present life is a theme for the Christian.

We can “glorify God” by having honest conduct and setting an example. Then in the Kingdom, these former detractors will look back and remember the conduct of the saints. Now we are misunderstood for not voting, not participating in war efforts, etc., but in the next life, these same persecutors will understand. They will see that they were the ones at fault and that the saints stuck to right principles. Honor will be brought to God when the world ultimately sees that the influence of His Word in the life of the saints had a good effect.

1 Pet. 2:13 Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme;

1 Pet. 2:14 Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well.

The Christian is to submit to “every ordinance.” The word “king” can be “emperor,” for these Jewish Christians were under the Roman Empire. In other words, they were to obey the overall command as well as local ordinances so far as conscience would permit.

Of course submitting to “every” ordinance could be carried to an extreme if one knuckled under to wrong religious practices. For example, when Peter was told not to preach the gospel, he acted rightly when he replied, in effect, “Is it proper for us to obey you, the civil authorities, or to obey God?” (Acts 5:29). The Christian is to obey God. Thus Peter’s own life and behavior must be considered along with this text in his first epistle before we make a final judgment as to what the Lord would want us to do, for if the Christian obeyed all authorities in all matters, he would even go to war.

Peter’s plain advice here (and Paul’s advice in Romans 13:1 and Titus 3:1) was given to guard the new creature against radicalism. The new creature is usually combatant by nature to a greater or lesser extent and there are many unjust laws, but the Christian is to submit unless a law personally affects a stand for conscience. Under certain circumstances, the new creature must take a stand.

In the early Church in the name of Christianity, many lectured constables and other law enforcers, thus bringing unnecessary persecution on themselves, all the while thinking they were doing God a service. It is easy to find fault with conditions, but if this is our main preoccupation, we will not have time to develop the peaceable fruits of righteousness. Thus Peter’s advice to submit to every ordinance was given to prevent us from bringing unnecessary persecution upon ourselves.

In the overall picture, laws are made to punish evildoers and to protect the righteous. Even an unjust government is a stabilizing influence, and any government is better than no government at all. No government would mean no law and order.

1 Pet. 2:15 For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men:

In the next age, the world will realize that they previously had a wrong concept in regard to proper living. The saints will then “put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.”

1 Pet. 2:16 As free, and not using your liberty for a cloak of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.

How could these Jewish Christians have used their “liberty for a cloak of maliciousness”? As enlightened Christians who had a wealth of information and knowledge about the Law, God, Jesus, etc., they could have entered this strange land that knew nothing about these things and been very critical and condemning of the “foolish” practices of these unlearned people.

However, while free from these practices and customs, they were not to consider themselves entirely free in all respects, for they were servants of God and were to live accordingly. Christians are under contract or bondage to God.

1 Pet. 2:17 Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.

Notice the scaling. Honor all, love the brethren, fear God, and honor the king (or emperor). In other words, try to get along peaceably with all men but especially with regard to the brotherhood. To the latter, we are not to give just a deferential recognition but to love them. In honoring all men, we are to respect their titles and duties. We are to go beyond this with the brethren and to love those who have the same heavenly hopes and  aspirations. We are to “fear God” in the sense of obeying Him and being extremely careful to please Him.

1 Pet. 2:18 Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward.

1 Pet. 2:19 For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.

“Servants, be subject to your masters.” This admonition shows that many slaves became Christians, and their knowledge made them superior to their masters in thinking, particularly on spiritual matters but even along natural lines. Consequently, they viewed their masters in a more unfavorable light, especially if the masters were uncouth and unkind. Peter did not tell the slaves to seek their freedom in order to serve God better but to submit “with all fear.”

The Greek phobeo or phobos is translated “fear” in verses 17 and 18. In regard to both God and the slave masters, the Christian was to be very careful lest he displease Him or them. The Christian is to obey! We are to tremble at God’s Word. We are not to get chummy with God. In being freed from an improper fear of hellfire or whatever, we are not to go to the other extreme and be palsy-walsy. Those who get chummy are in danger of getting careless and of paying less attention to what He is saying in His Word.

There were two classes of slaves: (1) common laborers and (2) intellectual persons who, for example, might be used to instruct the master’s children as tutors. Slaves of both categories became Christians.

“Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not … [merely] as menpleasers; but in  singleness of heart, fearing God” (Col. 3:22). If slaves thought only of serving God, they would be apt to weigh every command to determine whether it was His will. Many commands were unjust as regards the slave but were, nevertheless, to be rendered to the master not only as obedience to him but also as serving God. If conscience was involved in obeying, that was another matter, but frequently we must violate our feelings and suffer indignities as a Christian. And if we suffer because of right doing, God commends us, “for this is thankworthy.”

1 Pet. 2:20 For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.

If we suffer for doing wrong, we should take it patiently, but there is no special reward for so doing, no special virtue, when the fault is ours. However, if we suffer for doing right, we are suffering with Christ or for him.

1 Pet. 2:21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:

1 Pet. 2:22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:

1 Pet. 2:23 Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:

Why mention that Jesus “did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: … when he was reviled, [he] reviled not again”? To help us take patiently all suffering for righteousness and realize it is part of our sacrifice and sin offering. There is a distinction between suffering for right doing and suffering for wrong doing. The former is part of our sin offering; the latter is not. We are to consider how much Christ suffered for righteousness’ sake. However, this does not mean that Jesus never said anything in the face of criticism, but he reasoned with his critics and did not retaliate with evil and a loss of temper. With us, when we lose our temper and lash out on the spur of the moment, it may seem as if our retaliation is justified, but reason must be used instead. In other words, if something is done to us unjustly, we can answer and reason with the individual to show him that his conduct was wrong and thus, hopefully, correct him in his future behavior, but we are not to retaliate with a dig or slander, etc. To do so would not be productive and would be rendering evil for evil.

At times Jesus called attention to his critics and pointed out their faults, but at the end of his life, he remained silent, for he knew it was time for him to die. Jesus wanted to neither hasten nor delay God’s timetable for his execution, so he was mute. But before his “hour” came, he did speak out at times and at other times simply removed to another place. Thus time, circumstances, and conditions in each Christian’s life are factors in regard to his duty and action.

We must really weigh these factors. Otherwise, we can take these words and justify ourselves for almost anything one way or the other. We must observe what Jesus and the apostles did and did not do according to circumstances. This applies to DUTY and ACTION, for principles and conscience should never be violated!

Back to the same question: Why mention that Jesus “did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth”? One reason is that at times we, too, will have to suffer wrongfully for right doing. If Jesus so suffered, we should not be surprised when we have that experience—and Jesus was sinless. The Church is called to suffer.

At times Paul properly used “guile” in witnessing depending on whom he was addressing and their background and what the circumstances were. For example, he addressed the people about their “UNKNOWN” God. He told them that they were too religious with their multiplicity of gods and that they should concentrate on the one unknown God. This is using guile or deceit in a proper way. Guile or cunning as mentioned here by Peter would be in the sense of having a motive to damage others.

Jesus had no deceit in his mouth in the sense that whatever he did, it was always for the good of the individual. Consequently, he sometimes spoke and sometimes was quiet depending on the circumstance. But in no case did he want to trap or do harm or injury to anybody. He did stymie his opposers with questions, using the same line of reasoning they did: “Now I will answer your question with a question.” This was a form of reasoning.

Even when Jesus rebuked, his motive was to shake up the wrongdoers to see that what they were doing was wrong. He rebuked to wake them up but never to trap them. He spoke openly, bluntly, forthrightly. The words may have been cutting, but they were the simple truth. He was impartial in his words and spoke honestly. Communication and honesty are admirable traits.

In the Berean comments, the remark was made that Jesus did not sharply rebuke any one individual but, rather, the scribes and the Pharisees as a class and a system and that the rebuking was necessary to save the pure of heart from their influence. Generally, where possible, we should try to avoid naming individuals, but sometimes it is necessary to name them. By adhering to certain Scriptures and ignoring others, we would be stifled and never make comments, but we are to obey all Scriptures and thus be balanced in the matter, realizing there are times when individuals should be named. The apostles singled out certain individuals by name, and so must we in some instances. However, the usual thing is to criticize the system (for example, Papacy). Even the Pastor named individuals on occasion as being harmful to the Lord’s cause.

“When he suffered, he threatened not.” When Jesus was mocked and buffeted, he did not threaten. The natural tendency would be to say, “The Lord will get you for that.” Thus when we are persecuted, we should not threaten.

Jesus committed his cause to God, who judges righteously. Sooner or later God will repay; vengeance is His! It takes faith to believe this. Sometimes the judgment is postponed until the next age.

1 Pet. 2:24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.

Throughout his ministry Christ suffered, but now Peter is focusing on the end of his ministry, when he was especially buffeted. Earlier, Peter spoke of Jesus’ conduct and sinlessness and the verbal persecution he endured. But Jesus left us an example of physical suffering too. Therefore, we, as Christians, should also expect physical suffering. It is true that most of our battle today is mental, but there can be physical suffering too. There is a subtle indication here that the Church shares in the sin offering.

1 Pet. 2:25 For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

This verse is a quote from Isaiah 53:4–7. The apostle gives a practical application, saying (paraphrased), “We all, like sheep, were going astray. Our sin, the chastisement of our peace, was laid on him.”

A question is asked in Isaiah 53:1, “To whom is the arm [Christ] of the LORD [Jehovah] revealed?” Two perspectives are implied: (1) The nation of Israel did not believe Jesus was the Messiah, and they rejected him. (2) Momentarily even the disciples were confused and forsook him. When Jesus did not open his mouth and then was crucified, they wondered if he was being punished for displeasing God. They misunderstood the humiliation being heaped on him and even wondered for a short time if indeed he was the Son of God, the real Messiah.

Peter is saying that what Jesus went through was the extreme, but since we are called to suffer a similar humiliation, people could also look upon us as being alienated from God, even though we are trying to please Him. Because of our experiences, people could conclude that we did not have God’s favor. Peter is trying to encourage us that this is exactly the kind of experience the Christian is called upon to endure in the present life, suffering as did the Master. This is a warning that we should not misunderstand certain experiences and providences.

Peter began his epistle with the words “Blessed be … God … [who] hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 1:3). When Jesus was crucified, the hopes of the disciples were all shattered. Their hopes died when Jesus died. But when he was resurrected, their hopes revived. When the Shepherd was smitten, the sheep were scattered and confused (Zech. 13:7). But when he was raised, the confused and scattered sheep had revitalized hopes. Many of the Christian Jews in Asia Minor had known Jesus personally, as Peter had. Thus they knew that when Jesus died, they were scattered, and when he was raised,

they had renewed hope. Peter is writing from Israel to these dispersed Christian Jews about their common experience. They had been like scattered, confused sheep, but now they had returned unto the Shepherd of their souls, Jesus, and he was alive forevermore (Rev. 1:18).

Thus he is now the Shepherd in a more constant way in that he is ever living.

Jesus is the “[under] Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.” The Great Shepherd is Jehovah, and Jesus is the more immediate under-Shepherd. A “bishop” is a guardian, an overseer, a superintendent, a custodian. “Custodian” means to be in charge of. God is in back of Jesus’ custodianship; that is, He gave Jesus the custodianship. Custodianship implies more than just being a protector and a defender; teaching (tutorship) and training are also involved as regards the very soul of the individual.

1981

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