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


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II. 1 Pet. 2:11-4:11
2:11 f. Exhortation to purity of motive, and so to purity of life in the presence of the heathen (a kind of general heading to the section)
11, 12. We now begin the moral teaching resting on the religious foundation of the previous verses, and frequently making appeal to the same. These first two verses deal with personal as distinguished from social morality; first (1 Pet. 2:11) in its purely personal aspect, as affecting the man himself, and secondly (vs. 12) in respect of its influence on others who behold it. This second aspect leads naturally to social morality proper.

11. jAgaphtoiv, Beloved] The word begins the second as it does also the third or remaining section of the Epistle (1 Pet. 4:12), occurring nowhere else in the Epistle. Not St Paul only, but all the other writers of Epistles in the N.T. make use of it. It refers back to our Lord’s test of discipleship to Himself, the mutual love of those who believe in Him (John 13:34 f.; 15:12, 17); and is thus combined emphatically with pistoiv, faithful, in 1 Tim. 6:2 (q.v.): cf. Col. 4:9. It is doubtless also meant to imply the antecedent love of God as shewn forth in Christ.

The construction of what follows is not quite clear. Both readings ajpevcesqai and ajpevcesqe are well supported; and the great similarity of sound diminishes the relative weight of documentary authority. The infinitive is the more likely to be right, because St Peter shews a very strong preference for the aorist in imperatives (see p. 109). This on the whole outweighs the consideration that the imperative renders the omission of uJma'" slightly easier (“I speak words of exhortation as unto strangers &c.”: cf. 1 Cor. 10:15): e[conte" in 1 Pet. 2:12 goes best with ajpevcesqe, but the return to the nominative participle would be a quite natural irregularity after ajpevcesqai. The sense hardly differs.

parakalw' wJ" paroivkou" kai; parepidhvmou", I beseech you as sojourners and pilgrims] The double phrase catches up the parepidhvmoi" of 1 Pet. 1:1, and the paroikiva" of 1:17. It comes from two passages of the O.T. The two Hebrew words of similar sense are bv;/T, literally “a dweller,” but by usage “a sojourner,” and rGE, H1731 (the stronger word), “a stranger.” The former is commonly rendered pavroiko", G4230, the latter proshvluto", G4670: but in three of the places in which both Hebrew words occur together pavroiko", G4230, replaces proshvluto", G4670, for rGE, making another rendering necessary for bv;/T, and in two of the three the word chosen is parepivdhmo", G4215. These two are Gen. 23:4, where Abraham uses the words in their first or literal sense, saying to the sons of Heth, “I am a stranger and a sojourner with you: give me a possession of a burying place with you”; and again Ps. 39:13 (= 38:13, LXX.), where the words are used figuratively of man’s life on earth, being probably in part suggested by the same two Hebrew words (LXX. proshvluto", pavroiko") in Lev. 25:23 (where they refer to the land as belonging to God in true ownership); and likewise suggested in part by Jacob’s words to Pharaoh in Gen. 47:9 (“The days of the years of my life a}" paroikw'”), which again are echoed in Ps. 118:19 (119:19), pavroikov" eijmi ejn th'/ gh'/. The two words have virtually the same sense, a sojourner in a land not his own. Parepivdhmo" is itself rare, but the verb and substantive (-iva) are not uncommon in late classical literature and in inscriptions, expressing rather more strongly the sense which ejpidhmevw, G2111, has likewise in late classical writers. Neither word would ever be used of a man dwelling in his own city or land. Both the O.T. applications of the two words are reflected in the Epistle. The Asiatic Christians were sojourners both as being scattered among a population of other beliefs and standards of life than their own; and also because, while living on earth, they belonged to a present Commonwealth in the heavens, of which they hoped to become visibly and completely citizens hereafter. The two applications coalesce here, the ways of the heathen society being essentially ways of the earth. Here the two words, as paroikiva, G4229, in 1 Pet. 1:17 f., are associated with ajnastrofhv, G419, i.e. behaviour among other men. The Christians had to live among Gentiles whose habitual instincts were rooted in that lower order of things above which St Peter was exhorting them to rise. It was only by thinking of themselves as mere sojourners, not citizens, in the midst of such a fleshly order of society, that they could escape being dragged down by its usages. Compare Heb. 11:13, oJmologhvsante" o{ti xevnoi kai; parepivdhmoiv eijsin ejpi; th'" gh'", followed in the next verses by mention of a heavenly patriv", G4258, and a city prepared by God.

ajpevcesqai tw'n sarkikw'n ejpiqumiw'n, to abstain from the fleshly desires] The article must not be slurred over. Its force is to group the desires here called fleshly emphatically together, probably in contrast to other desires not having this character. From the nature of the case desires are spoken of in the N.T. from several points of view; and these different modes of speech must be taken as complementing and correcting each other. Sometimes desires as such, without any further justification, are implied to be evil; as in this Epistle, 1 Pet. 4:3 (ajselgeivai", ejpiqumivai", oijnoflugivai"; cf. 4:2; 1:14). Sometimes they are implied to be evil in so far as they are individual and so separate and ultimately selfish: so James 1:14, uJpo; th'" ijdiva" ejpiqumiva" ejxelkovmeno" kai; deleazovmeno": cf. 2 Pet. 3:3; Jude 16, 18 (eJautw'n); Rom. 1:24 (tw'n kardiw'n aujtw'n); 2 Tim. 4:3 (ijdiva") (cf. Num. 15:39). Sometimes a desire is called “evil” (ejpiqumivan kakhvn, Col. 3:5), implying that other desires might not be evil; and so, as here, we have Titus 2:12, ta;" kosmika;" ejpiqumiva", and again Eph. 2:3, ejn oi|" kai; hJmei'" pavnte" ajnestravfhmevn pote ejn tai'" ejpiqumivai" th'" sarko;" hJmw'n, this last being the probable source of our passage, as the context suggests. Other passages where desires and savrx, G4922, are associated are Rom. 13:14; Gal. 5:16, 17, 24; 1 John 2:16; and, more nearly resembling our passage in form, though in a totally different context, 2 Pet. 2:18, deleavzousin ejn ejpiqumivai" sarko;" ajselgeiva" tou;" k.t.l.

This is the only place in the Epistle where St Peter uses savrx, G4922, or sarkikov", G4920, strictly in the Pauline or ethical sense. Two points specially need attention with respect to it. On the one hand “the flesh” according to St Paul includes much more than sensuality, as a glance at Gal. 5:19 ff. is enough to show; for there such things as hatreds, factiousnesses, and envyings are members of a list which begins with fornication and ends with drunkennesses and revellings. On the other hand the term “flesh” is not applied to any part of human nature absolutely and in itself, but as placed in a wrong relation, that being allowed to rule which was made and meant to serve. Except in implied antithesis to “spirit,” this sense of “flesh” has no meaning.

The rather peculiar phrase ajpevcomai ejpiqumiw'n was already established in Greek. In a well-known passage of the Phaedo (82 C) Plato has it, oiJ ojrqw'" filosofou'nte" ajpevcontai tw'n kata; to; sw'ma ejpiqumiw'n aJpasw'n: also in Leg. viii.835 E, ajfevxontai tw'n pollou;" dh; kai; polla;" ejpiqumiw'n eij" e[scata ballousw'n; cf. Diod. xxxi. p. 587 (Wetst.). The more obvious ajpevcomai hJdonw'n (cf. tw'n hJdonw'n in James 4:1) occurs in combination with it just below in the Phaedo (83 B), hJ tou' wJ" ajlhqw'" filosovfou yuch; ou{tw" ajpevcetai tw'n hJdonw'n te kai; ejpiqumiw'n kai; lupw'n kai; fovbwn. Compare Schmidt, Synonymik iii.594f.

ai{tine", the which] There are some places in the N.T. in which o{sti", G4015, cannot be distinguished from o{", G4005; ultimately the distinction quite broke down in usage. In most places however of the N.T. o{sti", G4015, apparently retains its strict classical force, either generic, “which, as other like things,” or essential, “which by its very nature”; and this last is doubtless the sense here: it is no accidental fact, but part of the present condition of human nature that the fleshly desires make war against the soul.

strateuvontai kata; th'" yuch'", make war (take up war) against the soul] Two earlier passages of the Epistles contain the verb strateuvomai, G5129, and that in similar contexts: Rom. 7:22 f., “I consent with joy (sunhvdomai, G5310) to the law of God after the inward man, but I see a different law in my members taking up war against the law of my mind (ajntistrateuovmenon tw'/ novmw/ tou' noov" mou)”; James 4:1, “Whence come wars and whence come fightings among you? Come they not hence, even of your pleasures that take up war in your members (ejk tw'n hJdonw'n uJmw'n tw'n strateuomevnwn ejn toi'" mevlesin uJmw'n)?” In Romans the warfare spoken of is a rebellion of a lower law in the members against the true law of the mind, which is the law of God ratified by the inward man. In St James the image is more obscure: but apparently the pleasures are represented as in hostile occupation of the members, resisting a lawful authority which is not named. Here too the warfare is not waged by foreign invaders but by rebellious subjects, as the word itself was probably meant to indicate: the forces divinely ordained to serve under the soul rise up in mutiny against it to destroy it. Thus Josephus (B. J. iii.8.5) speaks of the hands of suicides as the instruments by which they took up war against themselves (ai|" ejstrateuvsanto kaqj eJautw'n); and conversely Plato (Rep. iv.429 B: cf. Leg. ix.878 C) speaking of a class in the state says, o} propolemei' te kai; strateuvetai uJpe;r aujth'".

What then is meant by the “soul” against which the fleshly desires make insurrection? It is by this time sufficiently recognised that the modern religious sense of the term “soul,” as the highest element in man, is founded on a misunderstanding of the N.T. On the other hand there is considerable exaggeration in the supposition that the word has in the N.T. a definitely depreciatory sense. That sense is undoubtedly latent in the N.T. use of the adjective yucikov", G6035, but probably only through antithesis to pneumatikov", G4461. This whole class of words has in truth a variable force in accordance with the context; and it is dangerous to attempt to build an absolute psychology on such passages as 1 Thess. 5:23. Yuchv (= vp,n‡<, H5883) is in both Testaments first the individual being or his or its individual life (Gen. 1:20 c 2:7), and then by a natural transition whatever is felt to belong most essentially to man’s life when his bodily life has come to be recognised as a secondary thing. It answers very nearly to our modern word and conception “self”; and it is curious how often its force is well brought out by substituting “self” as a paraphrase. Neither in this Epistle nor elsewhere is there evidence that the “soul” was regarded as a ruling power (to; hJgemonikovn in the Greek phrase); so that we must not be tempted to force into St Peter’s language here St Paul’s meaning when he wrote (Gal. 5:17): hJ ga;r sa;rx ejpiqumei' kata; tou' pneuvmato", to; de; pneu'ma kata; th'" sarkov", though St Peter can hardly have forgotten the phrase. (The two passages are curiously mixed in Ep. Polyc. v.3, kalo;n ga;r to; ajnakovptesqai ajpo; tw'n ejpiqumiw'n ejn tw'/ kovsmw/, o{ti pa'sa ejpiqumiva kata; tou' pneuvmato" strateuvetai.) He has in view rather the nexus in which all powers find their unity, that which is at once most individual and most permanent in us. In so far as the mutinous desires have their way, destruction is wrought to the very self: their action is the undoing of that which is called in 1 Pet. 1:9 swthriva yucw'n.

12. St Peter now passes from the inner purity to its visible fruits.

th;n ajnastrofh;n...kalhvn, having your behaviour among the Gentiles fair to see] jAnastrofhv, as before (1 Pet. 1:15, 18; ajnastravfhte 1:17) and later (3:1, 2, 16), is behaviour in converse with other men: ejn toi'" e[qnesin goes with ajnastrofhvn, not with kalhvn. It does not limit the behaviour to such things as concerned direct relations with the Gentiles, but denotes all behaviour which was in their midst, and so could not fail to be sooner or later known to them. The participle e[conte" in this context can hardly mean “as having” or “by having,” but rather “and so having”: that is, the fair behaviour is regarded as following naturally from the inward abstinence, though it is likewise part of the subject of exhortation.

kalhvn is doubly marked as predicative, not only being without an article while ajnastrofhvn has thvn, but placed as far from its substantive as possible, at the end of the clause.

Kalov", usually a hard word to translate, denotes that kind of goodness which is at once seen to be good, goodness as an object of direct contemplation, beauty being the obvious type of such goodness; while ajgaqov", G19, denotes what is good in virtue of its results. Hence in 1 Pet. 3:16 ajgaqhvn is the word used, because the goodness is there spoken of with reference to the present scorn which it provokes, not admiration. Compare James 3:13, deixavtw ejk th'" kalh'" ajnastrofh'" ta; e[rga aujtou' ejn prau?thti sofiva", and Heb. 13:18, ejn pa'sin kalw'" qevlonte" ajnastrevfesqai.

i{na ejn w|/ katalalou'sin uJmw'n wJ" kakopoiw'n, that in the very matter in which they speak against you as evildoers] jEn w|/, owing to the generality of its form, takes various senses in different contexts. The temporal sense, which is the commonest, while (Mark 2:19 || Luke 5:34; Luke 19:13; John 5:7), has little force here. It is simplest to take ejn w|/ as in the very matter in which, as in Rom. 2:1; (probably 8:15;) 14:21; 2 Cor. 11:12; the closest parallel however being a very similar passage of this Epistle, 3:16, i{na ejn w|/ katalalei'sqe kataiscunqw'sin oiJ ejphreavzonte" uJmw'n th;n ajgaqh;n ejn Cristw'/ ajnastrofhvn. The more difficult ejn w|/ of 1 Pet. 4:4 (ejn w|/ xenivzontai mh; suntrecovntwn uJmw'n eij" th;n aujth;n th'" ajswtiva" ajnavcusin) probably likewise means in which matter, i.e. in the matter of behaviour; but without an attraction.

Katalalevw, in Aristophanes to blab, in the later historians (sparingly) and in the LXX. is to speak evil of; in the N.T. it is confined to this and the parallel passage just cited (1 Pet. 3:16) and James 4:11 (thrice); cf. katalaliav, G2896, 1 Pet. 2:1; 2 Cor. 12:20; katavlalo", G2897, Rom. 1:30.

wJ" kakopoiw'n. Kakopoiov" and its derivatives are rare in classical literature, where they always (even in Xen. Oecon. iii.11) denote the doing of mischief or injury, either to a specified person or other object, or else absolutely. It is the same in the Apocrypha (Sir. 19:28 perhaps excepted). But in the LXX. this restricted sense passes sometimes into the wider sense of evil-doing from a moral point of view. In Mark 3:4 || Luke 6:9 the stricter interpretation is favoured by the context; but in 1 Peter (here; 1 Pet. 2:14; 3:17 [vs. 16 v. l.,]; 4:15) it cannot safely be maintained. In 3:17 kakopoiou'nta" (opposed to ajgaqopoiou'nta") is manifestly a repetition of poiou'nta" kakav (opposed to poihsavtw ajgaqovn) from Ps. 33:15, 17 (34:15, 17), as quoted in 1 Pet. 2:10-12; and this cardinal passage determines the usage throughout the Epistle. The same wider sense is required in 3 John 11, where the first clause of the verse is apparently founded on 1 Pet. 3:13.

Attention has rightly been called by several critics to the coincidence of this word with the language of Suetonius (Ner. 16), “Afflicti suppliciis Christiani, genus hominum superstitionis novae ac maleficae”; and in 1 Pet. 4:15 maleficus (corrupted to maledicus in the Vulgate) is the rendering of kakopoiov", G2804, in Tertullian and Cyprian. The further inference, that we have here an allusion to accusations of seditious or otherwise illegal conduct on the part of the Christians, is not borne out by the usage of maleficus any more than by that of kakopoiov", G2804. Except as a popular nickname for wizards (see passages quoted by , Itala u. Vulgata p. 316f., and Goelzer,  de Saint  p. 133), maleficus was not more definite in sense than kakopoiov", G2804; nor is there any evidence of a restricted sense of the much rarer word malefactor, known only from the Latin versions of the N.T. and a single passage of Plautus. But St Peter’s four times repeated use of kakopoiov", G2804, does suggest the probability that he was accustomed to hear either this epithet or its Latin equivalent flung at the Christians at Rome. If he heard it only in Latin, the precise force must remain ambiguous; that is, it might consistently mean either wizards (in accordance with what in later times was certainly a popular charge against the Christians), or quite vaguely “mischievous,” “pestilent.” The latter sense alone is attested for the Greek kakopoiov", G2804. In either case St Peter, in repeating it for his own purpose, might easily intend it to be taken with the literal sense “evildoer,” which could hardly be otherwise than familiar to his readers from the LXX. and which at all events (as the relation of 1 Pet. 3:10 to 3:17 implies) was in accordance with etymology.

It may however still be asked whether the abusive epithet, as popularly applied to the Christians, was meant to point to scandalous moral offences, such as were imputed to Christians in the second century. The supposition receives some plausibility from the phrase used by Tacitus (Ann. xv.44), “quos per flagitia invisos volgus Christianos appellabat,” for such offences would certainly be included under flagitia. But flagitium, more a term of contempt than of reprobation, is applied to things disgraceful from any point of view, not merely on moral grounds (as in a famous passage of Tacitus, Germ. 12, the flagitia of ignavi et imbelles are contrasted with the scelera of proditores et transfugae); and would naturally be applied without definite meaning to the ways of a despised and vaguely distrusted sect. That shameful immoralities were not intended may be gathered pretty certainly from the generality of St Peter’s language in all places, and especially by the collocation of kakopoiov", G2804, after wJ" foneu;" h] klevpth" and before wJ" ajllotriepivskopo" in 1 Pet. 4:15.

ejk tw'n kalw'n e[rgwn ejpopteuvonte" doxavswsi to;n qeovn, by reason of your good works they beholding may glorify God] We here come at once on a manifest allusion to our Lord’s saying reported in Matt. 5:16: the coincidence between tw'n kalw'n e[rgwn ejpopteuvonte" doxavswsi and i[dwsin...ta; kala; e[rga...doxavswsin cannot be accidental. The details of interpretation however are difficult.

jEpopteuvonte" must certainly be read, not ejpopteuvsante" (the more obvious tense, likely also to be introduced from 1 Pet. 3:2). jEpovpth" is in the first instance an eye-witness or an inspector, and ejpopteuvw, G2227, the corresponding verb. Neither word occurs in this sense in Attic prose. In poetry both are common, specially of the gods as keeping watch over this or that terrestrial object. In late Greek prose they were freely used, without limitation of reference, the verb being almost always transitive. St Peter’s use in 1 Pet. 3:2 is exactly normal. The heathen husbands are spoken of as to be won over by having been eye-witnesses of the pure behaviour of the Christian wives, ejpopteuvsante" th;n ajnastrofhvn. Here however the forms of language are very different. It would have been easy and obvious to say ta; kala; e[rga ejpopteuvsante", had St Peter meant no more than these words would convey. Both the peculiar construction with ejk, G1666, and the present participle have to be accounted for. The commonest interpretation (A.V. and R.V.) “that by your good works which they shall behold they &c.,” (literally “that they, by your good works, beholding them”) is very harsh and improbable, being in fact only a tortuous paraphrase of ta; kala; e[rga ejpopteuvsante". There can, I think, be no reasonable doubt that, while ejk tw'n kalw'n e[rgwn belongs to the present, ejpopteuvonte" no less that doxavswsi must belong to the future. The present seeing of the good works, not now recognised by the heathen as good (kalav), is not expressed but taken for granted; on the other hand it is taught that hereafter under the pressure of a day of visitation, the recollection of those works will open their eyes that they may be beholders indeed, and so come to glorify God. Thus ejk, G1666, receives full force: not the direct sight of the works, but its result (ejk, G1666). The memory of it was to be the agent in the future change of mind. This sense would not have forbidden the use of ejpopteuvsante": but the aorist participle might so easily be taken to refer to the time when the works were performed, that the easiest way to indicate briefly the true sense was to employ the present participle.

It remains to consider how far the object of ejpopteuvonte" can be defined. One tempting construction is to take it with to;n qeovn, of course in combination with the verb. This idea would not be foreign to the passage, for God must be in some sense contemplated before He could be glorified; and Clement of Alexandria several times has the identical phrase ejpopteuvw to;n qeovn (Strom. iv.152, p. 633; vii.57, p. 865) or to; qei'on (Paed. i.28, p. 114; Strom. v.67, p. 686). But the context of the last cited passage suggests that the phrase came from Neo-Pythagorean literature. Its ultimate source is doubtless the special or technical sense of ejpovpth", G2228, in Greek religion, as applied to one who has reached the last stage of initiation in the Greek mysteries, probably as being then admitted to behold the sacred symbols, whatever they may have been. jEpopteuvw, in the sense to be an ejpovpth", G2228, was then by a natural transition applied by Plato to initiation in Divine mysteries of philosophy; and it would need but another step to combine this use with the common late transitive use of the verb and so to apply the word to the beholding of God or of things Divine (see A. Jahn, Methodius Platonizans p. 39, n. 250). But it would be rash in the absence of corroborative evidence to suppose St Peter to have followed so peculiar a usage. It is simpler to take ejpopteuvonte" as a transitive absolute, “that beholding they may glorify God.” (So in the sense of “observing,” “watching,” Babrius lxxxviii.5, oJ de; th'" ajrouvrh" despovth" ejpopteuvwn wJ" xhro;n ei\de to; qevro".) If we are to ask what St Peter thought of them as beholding, no single answer will suffice; the memory of the good works would remove the veil which hid the Christians themselves; the good tree would be known by its good fruits; and the God whom the Christians served would then be known likewise, and homage be done to His true glory. It is not necessary to this interpretation to give (with Hofmann) ejpopteuvw, G2227, the sense “to recognise,” which undoubtedly it does not possess; all that the word denotes is actual vision, but in this context the vision spoken of is one that has been preceded by blindness.

doxavswsi to;n qeovn, a phrase much used in both O.T. ( dbkPi., Hiph.) and N.T. for all forms of human recognition of God’s true character and work, rendered by word or by act. It probably here includes both praise to Him for the “good works” of His despised servants the Christians, and thankful acknowledgement of His merciful justice in now afflicting themselves. For the former cf. II Isa. 49:3; 2 Thess. 1:10; for the latter Apoc. 11:13; 14:7; 15:4; 16:9.

ejn hJmevra/ ejpiskoph'", in a day of visitation] The absence of the article is not accidental: in this and other similar phrases the indefiniteness is essential to the meaning.

Formally the whole phrase comes from Isa. 10:3 (cf. Hos. 9:7 Heb.) or from Jer. 27:22 (34:22) Heb. (omitted altogether in LXX.); but its force depends on a considerable stream of O.T. usage. jEpiskevptomai usually represents dq'P;, H7212 (and ejpiskophv, G2175, hD:q¨P], H7213) with the fundamental sense “visit” or “inspect.” In the O.T. the “visiting” of man by God is the general expression of His ways of making His presence felt, especially after a period of seeming quiescence and indifference. Thus He “visits” His people to bring them out of their Egyptian bondage (Gen. 50:24 f.; Exod. 3:16; 4:31; 13:19; cf. Ruth 1:6), or their Babylonian exile (Jer. 27:22, referred to above; 29:10; 32:5; cf. Zeph. 2:7; Zech. 10:3; and 1 Esdras 6:5); or again individuals, as Hannah in her barrenness (1 Sam. 2:21). On the other hand He “visits” sinners and enemies with judgements in the midst of their fancied impunity (Exod. 32:34; Ps. 59:5; Isa. 10:3; Jer. 6:15; 8:12; 10:15 & c.). Both these senses recur in the Apocrypha, and the former in the N.T. likewise (Wisd. 4:15; Sir. 32:21; 46:14; Judith 8:33; Luke 1:68, 78; 7:16; and on the other hand Wisd. 14:11; 19:15; Sir. 16:18; 23:24); while a sense of the ambiguity is shewn in Judith by the insertion of eij" ajgaqovn, ejn ajgaqoi'" (Judith 4:15; 13:20). There is no clear case of the term “visitation” being applied to judgements as at once penal and corrective (the difficult passages Isa. 23:17; 24:22 can hardly be brought under this description): but on the other hand a “visiting” for the purpose of trial and probation is recognised in Ps. (Ps. 8:4;) 17:3; Job 7:18; 31:14; and this sense is rather common in the Apocrypha (Wisd. 3:7 [cf. 2:20], 13, e{xei karpo;n ejn ejpiskoph'/ yucw'n; Sir. 2:14; 18:20, ejn w{ra/ ejpiskoph'" euJrhvsei" ejxilasmovn; (cf. 31:6;) 3 Macc. 5:42). In our Lord’s words over Jerusalem (Luke 19:44) this sense appears to blend with that of visitation for blessing (7:16). Here the visitation must be one of judgement, but of judgement recognised as corrective, and so having the nature of trial or probation: that is, St Peter looked to a future opening of the eyes of men who were now despisers or persecutors, and to Divine judgements as the instruments of it, operating through the memory of the lives of Christians. Such an expectation implies his recognition of a conscience or voice of God within the heathen, enabling them at last to discern the moral truth which was contradicted by their habitual principles.

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