The first epistle of st. Peter 1: 1-2: 17



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pa'san kakivan, all malice] Moral kakiva, G2798, in classical Greek, the opposite of ajrethv, G746, includes all kinds of vice, and when it has a more special reference it denotes cowardice. But several compounds, especially kakohvqh", kakovnou", a[kako" (cf. Leop. Schmidt, Eth. d. alt. Gr. i.350f.; Trench, Synonyms § xi.), betray a latent inclination to associate kakov", G2805, more particularly with a malicious disposition, much as we sometimes use “vicious” in a similar restricted sense, and at length in the N.T. (perhaps also 2 Macc. 4:4) kakiva, G2798, itself is found as “malice”; not indeed in Matt. 6:34; Acts 8:22; but in most or all of the six passages in which St Paul uses the word; in James 1:21 just quoted, here, and perhaps in 1 Pet. 2:16. In Rom. 1:29; Col. 3:8 it stands in a list of vices, in Titus 3:3 it is coupled with fqovno", G5784, and in James 1:21 it is associated with ojrgh; ajndrov" and implicitly opposed to prau?th". Suidas has the note, probably taken from some Father, kakiva dev ejstin hJ tou' kakw'sai to;n pevla" spoudh; para; tw'/ ajpostovlw/. See also below on dovlo", G1515. Pa'san kakivan was probably suggested by Eph. 4:31, where su;n pavsh/ kakiva/ stands at the end of a sentence beginning with an enumeration of pikriva, qumov" k.t.l.; compare James 1:21 pa'san perisseivan kakiva". The meaning seems to be “every kind and form of malice,” the malice which hides itself under specious names as well as that which is open.

kai; pavnta dovlon kai; uJpovkrisin, and all guile and hypocrisy (hypocrisies)] There is a doubt here whether we should read uJpovkrisin (with B [? ac], the three early versions (lat.vt. (quotations) me. syr.) and Clem. or uJpokrivsei" with aAC and later MSS. lat.vg. syr. hl. arm. Thphyl. Oec. Standing between substantives in the singular and substantives in the plural, either form would be easily corrupted into the other. In favour of uJpokrivsei" it may be said that the singular once begun was more likely to be carried on by transcribers and translators than the plural carried back, Clement and several versions having indeed the singular throughout (a* pa'san katalaliavn). On the other hand there is a propriety in coupling together dovlon and uJpovkrisin under pavnta, and leaving the plural fqovnou" as a separate member. Either reading can be defended, though perhaps the plural is the safer.

Deceit and hypocrisy (or simulation) are evidently cognate, while deceit would usually have more direct reference to others, i.e. the persons deceived. Malice on the one hand, deceit (or deceit and hypocrisy) on the other are the two chief types of the vices inconsistent with such a love of the brethren as St Peter has been inculcating above. He thus in a manner repeats negatively here what he had said positively there. His mention of dovlo", G1515, here goes along with its occurrence in two of his weightiest quotations from the O.T., II Isa. 53:9 quoted in 1 Pet. 2:22 (note vs. 21 uJmi'n uJpolimpavnwn uJpogrammovn k.t.l.) and Ps. 33:14 (34:14) quoted in 1 Pet. 3:10. JUpovkrisi" we have had virtually already in 1:22 where ajnupovkrito", G537, is added to filadelfiva, G5789, as St Paul combines it with ajgavph, G27, (Rom. 12:9; 2 Cor. 6:6). It does not itself occur in any of St Paul’s moral exhortations or lists of vices (only in two as it were accidental passages, Gal. 2:13; 1 Tim. 4:2) and comes rather from our Lord’s own words.

kai; fqovnou", and envyings] The plural in a manner replaces pavnta; envyings of various kinds, relating to various advantages; but all having the same effect, the destruction of brotherhood.

kai; pavsa" katalaliav", and all evil speakings] Here the variety of forms is doubly emphasised by the plural and by pavsa". The most direct antecedent here is probably James 4:11, with its thrice repeated verb (in 1 Pet. 2:12; 3:16 not mutual but external calumniation is spoken of). We have also the adjective katalavlou" in the list of heathen vices in Rom. 1:30, and the substantive in the list of vices which St Paul feared to find among the Corinthians (2 Cor. 12:20). The verb, after two places in Aristophanes (Ran. 752; Bekker, Anecd. i. p. 102.15), is late only, and rare except in the Bible and Fathers; the adjective and substantive unknown in classical literature.

The connexion between this verse and the next is that the putting away of all malice & c. is to be in preparation for that which is bidden in the next verse, just as in 1 Pet. 1:13 the girding of the loins of the mind (ajnazwsavmenoi) was to be in preparation for setting hope on the grace there spoken of. It was only by the abandonment of these intrusive evil ways that it was possible for the Divinely implanted hunger of the spirit, described in the next verse, to be felt in its proper power.

2. wJ" ajrtigevnnhta brevfh, as newborn babes] jArtigevnnhto" a late and also rare word, replacing neognov". The authority for the reading ajrtigevnhta is insufficient: otherwise it would seem the more probable.

This is the only place where brevfh is used figuratively, nhvpioi being commonly so used.

There can be little doubt that St Peter is referring to the birth spoken of in 1 Pet. 1:23. But we have to ask why he chooses language which seems to imply a very recent accession to the true faith, though many of those to whom he wrote must have been Christians of long standing in 63 or 64 A.D. The phrase is naturally dwelt on by those who assign to the Epistle a very early date. Apart however from other difficulties about an early date, the explanation of the peculiarity is certainly not to be found in external chronology, with which the following words to; logiko;n a[dolon gavla ejpipoqhvsate can have nothing to do. In both the other passages of the N.T. where the figure of milk is used for the spiritual sustenance of Christians, 1 Cor. 3:2 f. and Heb. 5:12 ff., it is distinctly contrasted with the strong meat fit for them of full age, and both Corinthians and Hebrews are found fault with for being still incapable of profiting by more than milk; while here on the other hand milk alone is set forth to be desired. But this difference cannot be due to an earlier stage of Christian experience; for the next clause i{na...swthrivan looks forward to the highest progress without any hint that the milk was soon to give way to another kind of food, and the emphatic preceding words to; logiko;n a[dolon shew that stress does not lie on milk as contrasted with stronger food. If then, as is probable enough, the image was suggested by the thought of the original passage out of heathenism into the Christian faith, yet the sense of the verse as a whole marks the new birth implied in ajrtigevnnhta as perpetually renewed and therefore always recent. The words which I quoted on 1 Pet. 1:23 from the appendix to Ep. ad Diognetum 11 apply completely here: He who was from the beginning, who appeared as new (kainov", G2785) and was found to be of old (palaiov", G4094), was indeed pavntote nevo" ejn aJgivwn kardivai" gennwvmeno". And further, the renewed birth carried with it a renewed infancy in no wise inconsistent with full manhood. Christ’s own words “Except ye turn and become as the little children” (Matt. 18:3; whether or not ta; paidiva there spoken of could be called brevfh) were not to be exhausted by a single “turning.” Compare Aug. Conf. vii.18: Verbum caro factum est ut infantiae nostrae lactesceret sapientia tua, per quam creasti omnia.


Brevfh, in Homer unborn babes, are afterwards children at the breast. Among the Jews this lasted some two or even three years (cf. 2 Macc. 7:27; Ev. de Nat. Mariae, vi. in Tischendorf, Evang. Apocr. p. 109; cf. Winer, Bibl. . sub voce Kinder, p. 657). Philo, Vit. Moys. i.6 (ii.84), after describing the earlier stages of Moses’s education speaks of him as h[dh tou;" o{rou" th'" brefikh'" hJlikiva" uJperbaivnwn.

to; logiko;n a[dolon gavla, the spiritual guileless milk] An unquestionably difficult phrase. The familiar rendering “milk of the word” is simply impossible. The qualitative adjective logikovn could never stand for the definite genitive tou' lovgou, though that idea, naturally suggested by the preceding verses, early found favour. Logikov", not used in either the LXX. or Apocrypha, stands elsewhere in the N.T. only in Rom. 12:1, parasth'sai ta; swvmata uJmw'n qusivan zw'san aJgivan tw'/ qew'/ eujavreston, th;n logikh;n latreivan uJmw'n: and that St Peter had that passage in mind here is made probable by the similarity of its contents to his own words three verses later on (1 Pet. 2:5), ajnenevgkai pneumatika;" qusiva" eujprosdevktou" qew'/ dia; jIhsou' Cristou', where pneumatikov", G4461, replaces logikov", G3358. In classical Greek logikov", G3358, had two chief senses, derived from the common and from a derivative sense of lovgo", G3364, “belonging to speech” and “belonging to reason.” With the first we have evidently nothing to do, on the assumption that “milk of the word” cannot be intended. The second on the other hand requires careful attention. Logikov" in the sense “rational” is not used by Plato or Aristotle: but much of its subsequent force was prepared for by a famous passage of the Timaeus (90 A), in which Plato speaks of the supreme element of the soul as a daivmwn, G1230, given to each man by God, raising us toward our kindred in heaven, as being ourselves not of earthly but of heavenly growth. The new use of the adjective logikov", G3358, comes from the Stoics, and especially from their favourite definition of man as logiko;n zw'/on, a rational animal. From them it passed into general use. Philo has it often. Thus (De profug. 13, 1.556) he speaks of the Father of all as entrusting the creation of the mortal part of the soul to subordinate powers in imitation of His own fashioning of to; logiko;n ejn hJmi'n: and so often. What is however especially to be noticed is that the logikovn of the soul was distinguished from its passionate and its appetitive elements, in accordance with Plato’s famous distinction, and thus came to be associated with that control of the passions and appetites which was regarded as distinctively human. Thus Plutarch, in a passage (ii.132 A) which well illustrates St Peter, deprecates the use of animal food as the principal diet, urging that as a rule use should be made of other foods more natural, he says, to the body, and which less deaden th'" yuch'" to; logikovn: in at least two other places he opposes to; logikovn to to; paqhtikovn (ii.38 A, 61 D), and again he identifies it with to; eu[takton as opposed to to; taracw'de" (ii.1026 C). To the same purport at a later time Eusebius, in a strain evidently not borrowed from the N.T., speaks (H. E. i.2, 19) of the wild lawless men before the Flood as corrupting ta; logika; kai; h{mera th'" ajnqrwvpwn yuch'" spevrmata: and again of Constantine (Vita Const. iv.5, 2: cf. Laud. Const. vii.13) as sometimes taming the wild Scythians logikai'" presbeivai" (rational approaches (?)), changing them from a lawless and bestial life ejpi; to; logiko;n kai; novmimon: and again Laud. Const. xvii.6 of logika;" trofa;" yucai'" logikai'" katallhvlou". These examples quite suffice to set aside whatever presumption against this interpretation might arise from the undoubted fact that the substantive lovgo", G3364, never means “reason” in the N.T. Accordingly all the Latins have rationabile or rationale. Both the positive and the negative bearings of the word are in place here. The positive, because the invisible food which Christians were to long for could not be one which left reason unnourished: it must be food capable of sustaining those powers by which man beholds truth, and becomes capable of wisdom. The negative meaning of the word has still more obviously a place here, because the former antithesis to the heathen life is still kept in mind. The food which nourished reason is also the food which directly or indirectly would calm down passion and appetite, the ruling powers of humanity in the heathen life, not indeed according to the teaching of the better heathen wisdom, but according to the maxims and instincts of ordinary heathen life. Thus we have here in this word an echo of thoughts that have recurred here and there in the whole paragraph, in 1 Pet. 1:13 ajnazwsavmenoi ta;" ojsfuva" th'" dianoiva" uJmw'n, and again especially nhvfonte" teleivw"; in vs. 14 mh; sunschm. tai'" provteron ejn th'/ ajgnoiva/ uJmw'n ejpiqumivai"; and in vs. 22 in th'/ uJpakoh'/ th'" ajlhqeiva".

[Adolo", guileless, is sometimes applied to wine and other objects in the sense “unadulterated,” and doubtless that sense is contemplated here. Those who assume logikovn to refer to the Word of the Gospel naturally take a[dolon to mean unmixed with false doctrine and otherwise unfalsified (cf. 2 Cor. 4:2, mh; peripatou'nte" ejn panourgiva/ mhde; dolou'nte" to;n lovgon tou' qeou'). But both the context

and the form of expression (to; logiko;n a[dolon gavla, on which see below) render it unlikely that St Peter means to contrast a[dolon gavla with other milk which is adulterated. He is thinking only of the child at its mother’s breast, and to him milk is, as such, the kind of food which by the nature of the case cannot be adulterated. This, he implies, is the characteristic of the spiritual sustenance which proceeds directly from God Himself. The guile (dovlo", G1515) implied in adulteration is doubtless thought of in the use of the word usually meaning “guileless,” probably not without an indirect opposition to pavnta dovlon in the preceding verse: in 1 Pet. 2:22 St Peter, in Isaiah’s words, says of Christ that no “guile” (dovlo", G1515) was found in his mouth. But the deceitful mixture intended must be rather moral than formally doctrinal: it must be mixture with disguised elements derived from heathen ways of thinking.

What then after all is the milk intended? The definite article before logikovn cannot naturally be taken as bidding them choose out for their longing such milk as is logikovn and a[dolon. It must therefore mean “that logiko;n a[dolon milk” of which they knew well already. This could only be a Divine grace or spirit coming directly from above. Newly born from above, they must also seek their nourishment from above, at once life and light, power and wisdom; what St John (1 John 2:20, 27) by another figure calls “the anointing from the Holy One, which is true and is no falsehood.” “If we were regenerated unto Christ,” says Clement (Paed. i.6, p. 127 ed. Potter), “He who regenerated us nourishes us with His own milk, the Word; for every thing which gives birth to aught else seems at once to supply nourishment to its offspring.” Such Divine influence would come to them only in the turning of their own hearts and minds in directions according with what they knew to be Divine purposes, i.e. in that turning which in the already cited passage of Romans (Rom. 12:2) is called an ajnakaivnwsi" tou' noo;" eij" to; dokimavzein tiv to; qevlhma tou' qeou', to; ajgaqo;n kai; eujavreston kai; tevleion.

This interpretation harmonises with the probable sense of the difficult corresponding verse of James (James 1:21), where the e[mfuto" lovgo" to be received cannot without serious violence to language be taken for any external word, Gospel or other, but must mean God’s voice within. Nor is it impossible that this e[mfuto" lovgo" of St James suggested the choice of word here. St James’s use of lovgo", G3364, is in fact a link between the ordinary biblical use of the word and its secondary sense as “reason,” in connexion with which, as we have seen, logikov", G3358, as used here must be interpreted. The rational or spiritual element in man, or whatever else we call it, is to St James God’s word in man, God speaking within. Cf. Ath., Or. contra Gent. 30-34.

Thus the rendering “spiritual” (R.V.) contains only a part of the meaning of logikovn: but no single word is satisfactory. “Reasonable” is vague and ambiguous, and “rational,” though literally correct, suggests wrong associations.

ejpipoqhvsate, long for] A word much used (with its derivatives) by St Paul, occurring also in the enigmatic quotation in James 4:5, often expresses strong desire of any kind. But in St Paul it always refers to the longing for the presence of absent friends, except in 2 Cor. 5:2 (the longing for new habitations already provided in the heavens, the true and proper body). In St James it is God’s yearning after the spirit which He set to dwell in man. So here the word was probably chosen to suggest that the milk was the true appointed food, not simply the best among many, but the one which had the prerogative of a kind of natural affinity. To long for this milk was to follow an instinct, but an instinct easily overridden by perverse cravings such as those of malice, guile, hypocrisy, envy, and evil speaking, and so needing to be cultivated.

On the whole clause the fifth and sixth chapters of Clem. Paed. i. are worth reading, though it is difficult to extract any single passage but the sentence quoted above, and the whole discussion of the relation of Christ as the Word to men as partakers of Divine milk is fanciful and confused.

i{na ejn aujtw'/ aujxhqh'te eij" swthrivan, that thereby ye may grow unto salvation] In some, by no means all, of the late MSS. but not in any early MS. or version eij" swthrivan is omitted.

ejn aujtw'/ aujxhqh'te is doubtless founded on Eph. 4:15, ajlhqeuvonte" de; ejn ajgavph/ (the positive of what St Peter says negatively in 1 Pet. 2:1) aujxhvswmen eij" aujto;n ta; pavnta, where in the next verse (as also in Col. 2:19) we hear of the growth (au[xhsin) of all the body through the ejpicorhgiva, G2221, coming into it from its head, Christ. St Peter does not here dwell on the corporate life which is St Paul’s main point, though it is implied a little further on in 1 Pet. 2:5, and again in 4:10: but the ejpicorhgiva, G2221, of St

Paul (cf. Gal. 3:5; Phil. 1:19) answers to what St Peter calls milk.

ejn aujtw'/ is “in the power of it,” “in virtue of it.” In putting forward growth as a definite purpose, St Peter marked the strongly practical and ethical character of the Gospel as he conceived it; all is to tend to the strengthening and development of character towards perfection.

The addition of eij" swthrivan (answering to to;n dunavmenon sw'sai ta;" yuca;" uJmw'n said by St James (James 1:21) of “the inborn word”) does not change the character of the purpose. Salvation in the fullest sense is but the completion of God’s work upon men, the successful end of their probation and education.

3. eij ejgeuvsasqe o{ti crhsto;" oJ kuvrio", if ye have tasted that the Lord is good] For eij, G1623, many authorities read ei[per, G1642, (not used in N.T. except by St Paul), with the same sense more definitely expressed. Eij with the aor. probably does not here mean “if at the time when you became Christians ye tasted,” but “if ever before now ye tasted”; cf. 1 Tim. 5:10, chvra katalegevsqw...eij ejteknotrovfhsen k.t.l. The words that follow come from Ps. 33:9 (34:9), geuvsasqe kai; i[dete o{ti crhsto;" oJ kuvrio", the kai; i[dete being omitted as less appropriate to what has preceded. In 1 Pet. 3:10-12 five verses of the same Psalm are definitely quoted. At first sight it might be thought that ejgeuvsasqe fixed crhstov", G5982, to the special sense which it sometimes has in reference to articles of food, marking them as of high quality, usually in soundness, but sometimes, it would seem, in flavour (cf. Luke 5:39 of wine). This however is fallacious. The Hebrew is merely b/f, H3202, “good”; and crhstov", G5982, is the usual (though not constant) rendering of b/fwhen applied to Jehovah in the Psalms (e.g. Pss. 106:1; 107:1). If the Psalmist had any special reason for choosing the unusual word “taste” for “try,” “make experience,” it was probably that the next two verses refer to wants such as hunger: “there is no want to them that fear Him: the young lions do lack and suffer hunger: but they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing”: and thus experience of God as the bountiful giver of food to all flesh might seem to be appropriately expressed by the word “taste.” An analogous feeling might have guided St Peter’s choice of the quotation: that is, his ejgeuvsasqe was meant to be specially appropriate with gavla, G1128, not with crhstov", G5982. Such past experience as the Asiatic Christians already had of the Divine milk would lead them up to a higher experience of the graciousness and goodness of Him from whom it came. Elsewhere in the N.T. this word when used of God usually expresses His gracious longsuffering (Luke 6:35; Rom. 2:4; and the substantive Rom. 2:4; 11:22 ter; Eph. 2:7), but in Titus 3:4 it has a somewhat wider sense, and so doubtless here, as His lovingkindness.

A partial parallel to this clause occurs in Heb. 6:4, 5, with reference to Jews who in becoming Christians had had a genuine Christian experience, being enlightened with the new light from heaven, and “tasting of the heavenly gift...and tasting qeou' rJh'ma to be good” (kalovn being predicative, as R.V. mg.). The difference is that St Peter carries the experience a step higher. The passage at the same time illustrates the true sense of to; logiko;n a[dolon gavla, as being not any concrete teaching, but rather what is variously described as the heavenly gift, holy spirit, word of God, powers of the age to come.

In the Psalm oJ kuvrio" stands for Jehovah, as it very often d o es, the LXX. inserting and omitting the article with kuvrio", G3261, on no apparent principle. On the other hand the next verse shews St Peter to have used oJ kuvrio" in its commonest though not universal N.T. sense, of Christ. It would be rash however to conclude that he meant to identify Jehovah with Christ. No such identification can be clearly made out in the N.T. St Peter is not here making a formal quotation, but merely borrowing O.T. language, and applying it in his own manner. His use, though different from that of the Psalm, is not at variance with it, for it is through the crhstovth", G5983, of the Son that the crhstovth", G5983, of the Father is clearly made known to Christians: “he that hath seen me hath seen the Father.”



4. pro;" o}n prosercovmenoi, unto whom drawing nigh] These, at first sight easy words, are found to stand considerably in need of explanation when we see to what they lead. The rest of the sentence speaks of the Lord (o{n) solely as a living stone, evidently the cornerstone, and of those who are described as “drawing nigh to Him” as being built up a spiritual house. In this relation of cornerstone to other stones in a house there is nothing obviously answering to the relation between One to whom men draw nigh and those who draw nigh to Him, whether for worship or to obtain help or for any other purpose. The phrase itself on examination proves to be less usual than it looks. The familiar language about coming to Christ is entirely derived from Matt. 11:28 (deu'te prov" me) and a few verses of John 6 (John 6:35, 37, 44 f., 65), with one from the preceding (5:40), and one from the following (7:37) chapter (ejrc. prov"): compare 14:6, oujdei;" e[rcetai pro;" to;n patevra k.t.l. With the compound verb prosevrcomai, G4665, in the N.T. we find exclusively the simple dative, and even this usage, except when it is used for external physical approach, is confined to Hebrews (Heb. 4:16; 7:25; 11:6; cf. 10:1, 22 (abs.)), where it means approach for worship and prayer, as it often does in the LXX. chiefly for vg"n:, H5602 and br"q;, H7928, both meaning “draw near,” and often rendered by ejggivzw, G1581. The only places where prosevrcomai, G4665, with prov", G4639, followed by the name of God occurs in the LXX. are 1 Sam. 14:36, where it means approach for oracular consultation, and Ps. 33:6 (34:6), the very Psalm, that is, from which St Peter has just been borrowing. Three verses before the words geuvsasqe kai; i[dete o{ti crhsto;" oJ kuvrio" we read prosevlqate pro;" aujtovn (i.e. to;n kuvrion) kai; fwtivsqhte, kai; ta; provswpa uJmw'n ouj mh; kataiscunqh'/: and it is difficult not to think that these words (prosevlqate pro;" aujtovn) are here appropriated by St Peter. But in what sense? In the LXX. they are a mistranslation of the Heb.: “they looked ( WfyBihifrom fb'n:, H5564) unto Him.” The true sense of the Heb. here is not only interesting in itself, but apposite to our passage. The verb is but once elsewhere used of looking to God, and in that one place (Isa. 22:11) it is not a looking for help (see vs. 8 which suggested it). The Psalmist’s conception is that, in turning their faces towards God, they were lit up with the light shining from His face, so that the gloom disappeared: and this lightening of faces with the light of God’s face is analogous to the building up of the living stones in union with the living stone in heaven. But, though a sense of this analogy may have been present to St Peter’s mind, we have no right to look beyond the usual sense of prosercovmenoi, the word which he actually uses. Its difficulty consists in its suggestion of motion, where the image which follows suggests rest; and thus we might have expected rather proskeivmenoi as in II Isa. 56:3; Ezek. 37:16 (ejpj aujtovn,) 37:19. The true explanation doubtless lies in zw'nta and zw'nte". The union of the many living stones with the one living stone is not a quiescent juxtaposition effected once for all. It implies a perpetual conscious drawing nigh of the many stones to the one stone, made possible and made necessary by the fact that they live and that He lives.

It deserves notice that the two verbs provskeimai (see above) and prosevrcomai, G4665, are used indifferently by the LXX. for the “sojourning” (sc. with the people of God), rWG, H1591, of a “sojourner,” rGE, H1731 (usually proshvluto", G4670, sometimes pavroiko", G4230: see Additional Note). This special application of prosevrcomai, G4665, both as a verb and as latent in proshvluto", G4670, understood (as late usage suggested) with reference to adhesion to the Jewish faith rather than settlement in the Jewish land, may well have here been present to St Peter’s mind. The Christians of Asia Minor were not only members of a new Dispersion, but were proselytes in a new sense, joined not only to a holy people, but to the manifested Christ its Head.




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