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

:3-12. Thanksgiving for the Christian hope in the midst of trials, that hope being the fulfilment of prophetic expectations


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1:3-12. Thanksgiving for the Christian hope in the midst of trials, that hope being the fulfilment of prophetic expectations
3. Eujloghto;" oJ qeo;" kai; path;r tou' kurivou hJmw'n jIhsou' Cristou', Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ] This form of benediction is copied from Eph. 1:3: it had been previously used 2 Cor. 1:3. “Thanksgiving” (eujcaristevw, G2373, except 2 Tim., cavrin e[cw) stands for “blessing” in the corresponding place of St Paul’s other epistles, except those (Gal., 1 Tim., Tit.) which have nothing analogous. In all three places the subject of “blessing” is a universal gift to Christians; while the “thanksgiving” has invariably some special reference to the persons addressed.

The Greek verbal eujloghtov", G2329, like the English “blessed,” admits of two different senses, “receiving blessing,” and “worthy of receiving blessing.” The latter sense was apparently intended by the LXX. translators, the probable authors of the word, if we may judge by their habitual though not invariable employment of eujloghtov", G2329, and eujloghmevno", both for the same Heb. Ër"B;, H1385,. With the exception of 6 out of 42 places (Gen. 12:2; 26:29; Deut. 7:14; Ruth 2:20; 1 Sam. 15:13; 25:33 oJ trovpo" sou [Abigail]: also doubtful vv. ll. in Deut. 28:6 bis; 33:24; Judges 17:2), eujloghtov", G2329, is reserved for God Himself, or once (Ps. 71:19, best MSS.) His Name: while eujloghmevno" is 27 times applied to men or other creatures, and only 4 times to God (1 Kings 10:9; 1 Chr. 16:36; 2 Chr. 9:8; Jer. 38:23 (31:23)), as well as thrice to His Name (Job 1:21; Ps. 112:2; Dan. 2:20 [also Thdn.]) and once to His glory (Ezek. 3:12); and indeed in 4 of these last 8 places the sense of worthiness is otherwise given by the presence of gevnoito, e[stw, or ei[h. The same usage is found in the Apocrypha (where eujloghtov", G2329, has its normal application 21 times, eujloghmevno" 4 times), except perhaps in two long passages where there is much confusion of text (Judith 13:17, 18 bis; Dan. 3:52-55 [also Thdn.]; also the peculiar recension of Tobit 13:12, 18 in a). For the consecutive employment of the two words in their respective senses see Gen. 14:19 f. (eujloghmevno" jAbra;m tw'/ qew'/ tw'/ uJyivstw/..., kai; eujloghto;" oJ qeo;" oJ u{yisto"); 1 Sam. 25:32 f.; Tobit 11:14. The usage of the N.T. follows the old lines without exception (eujloghtov", G2329, 8 times, eujloghmevno" 3 times, besides a 6 times repeated quotation from Ps. 117:26). This appropriation of the two words obviously rests on the feeling that men and lower things can naturally be called “blessed” only as having as a matter of fact now or formerly received blessing from God; but that in calling God “blessed” we are thinking of historic fact only in so far as it points to a fundamental obligation to bless Him which rests on His creatures under all circumstances. The strict sense of eujloghtov", G2329, is invoked by Philo (De Migr. Abr. 19), naturally with a different antithesis, to explain the paradox that Abraham is called eujloghtov", ouj movnon eujloghmevno", in Gen. 12:2 (see above): he virtually defines eujloghtov", G2329, as pefukw;" eujlogiva" a[xio" kai; a]n pavnte" hJsucavzwsin. The question whether the verb to be mentally supplied with eujloghtov", G2329, in benedictions is ejstivn or ei[h is answered at once by the right interpretation of the verbal. Apart from the universal presumption against supplying any tense of the substantive verb but the present indicative, this is the only tense that suits the meaning “worthy of blessing.” But the most exact English rendering of this meaning is the optative or jussive Blessed be. (Most of the evidence here adduced has been independently discussed, with substantially the same results, by Ezra Abbot in the Journal of the [American] Society of Biblical Literature and Exegesis for Dec. 1881 [Middletown, 1882], pp. 152ff.)

The ultimate etymology of Ër"B;, H1385, is uncertain: but its chief biblical uses (“blessing” of men by men, of God by men or other creatures, of men or other creatures by God), which are more distinct from each other than the familiarity of a single rendering in Greek, Latin, and modern languages allows us easily to recognise, apparently all rest immediately on the sense “to speak good words to,” “to express good will by words.” Some such sense as this was probably assumed by the LXX. translators in their almost invariable rendering of Ër"B;by eujlogevw, G2328, (eujloghtov", G2329), which commended itself rather by its two obvious roots than by actual usage. Eujlogevw, a word of rare and somewhat late occurrence in prose literature, better known from Pindar and the dramatists, with classical writers means always “to praise,” usually “to pronounce public or formal praise” (thus the Rhet. ad Alex. 4 init. identifies it with to; ejgkwmiastiko;n ei\do" of rhetoric). Moreover the gods are never its objects; except indeed in a pair of late Egyptian inscriptions, Aijscrivwn ªDiodºovtou Qra'/x eªujºlogªw'º to;n eu[oªdoºn qeovn.—Aijscrivwn Dioªdovtºou eujlogw' th;n Ei\sin (C. I. G. 4705 b. Add. from Antinoopolis: compare another distinctly Jewish pair, also Egyptian, Eujlogei' to;n qeo;n Ptolemai'o" Dionusivou jIoudai'o".—Qeou' eujlogiva: Qeovdoto" Dwrivwno" jIoudai'o" swqei;" ejk...[C. I. G. 4838 c from Edfu]). Thus all the three biblical usages noticed above were new applications of eujlogevw, G2328, all taking their colour from the relation of men to God as willing the good of men. The “blessing” of God by men (as in eujloghtov", G2329, here) is the only biblical usage in which the classical sense of “praise” distinctly survives: the “blessing” of God by men is no mere jubilant worship, but an intelligent recognition of His abiding goodness as made known in His past or present acts. The use of the same word, whether in Hebrew or in Greek, for what is called the “blessing” of God by man and for what is called the “blessing” of man by God is probably founded on a sense of the essentially responsive nature of such “blessing” as men can send on high. “Prior est in nobis benedictio Domini,” says Augustine, “et consequens est ut et nos benedicamus Dominum. Illa pluvia, iste fructus est. Ergo redditur tanquam fructus agricolae Deo, compluenti nos et colenti” (En. in Ps. “lxvi,” 4.655 B). Such must be the force of the emphatic language of Eph. 1:3 f., Eujloghto;" oJ qeo;" kai; path;r k.t.l., oJ eujloghvsa" hJma'" ejn pavsh/ eujlogiva/ pneumatikh'/ ejn toi'" ejpouranivoi" ejn Cristw'/, kaqw;" ejxelevxato hJma'" ejn aujtw'/ pro; katabolh'" kovsmou.

The designation the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is confined to initial benedictions (Eph. 1:3; 2 Cor. 1:3; as here: compare the thanksgiving in Col. 1:3, where however the right text has no kaiv, G2779) or other places of special solemnity (Rom. 15:6 [cf. Phil. 2:11, with the whole context from vs. 2], 2 Cor. 11:31, without hJmw'n or Cristou' (right reading), and with oJ w]n eujloghto;" eij" tou;" aijw'na" added. The most obvious construction of this compound phrase is also the true one; that is, tou' kurivou hJmw'n jIhsou' Cristou' must be taken with qeov", G2536, as well as with pathvr, G4252. This construction (adopted by the Reims Version in 2 Cor. 1:3, by A.V. and most earlier English revisions in 2 Cor. 11:31, by A.V. in Eph. and 1 Pet., and by R.V. in all five places and in Apoc. 1:6, tw'/ qew'/ kai; patri; aujtou', sc. jIhsou' Cristou') alone agrees naturally with the collocation of words, though it is doubtless grammatically possible to take qeov", G2536, absolutely. In the absence of an accessory word or phrase prefixed or affixed to qeov", G2536, or of a change of order, or of any other sign calling on the reader to make a pause, he could hardly fail to read continuously on, unless indeed the sense thus obtained were manifestly impossible: compare the exactly similar oJ qeo;" kai; path;r hJmw'n of Gal. 1:4; Phil. 4:20; 1 Thess. 1:3; 3:11, 13 (cf. 2 Thess. 2:16). Here, as always, qeov", G2536, is as much an appellative as pathvr, G4252, (see above, p. 21), and there is nothing to suggest that the two appellatives were meant to stand on a different footing. In Ephesians (Eph. 1:3) any supposition that intrinsic necessity of sense requires the disjoining of qeov", G2536, from tou' kurivou k.t.l. is forbidden by the direct and immediate phrase in 1 Pet. 1:17, oJ qeo;" tou' kurivou hJmw'n jIhsou' Cristou', oJ path;r th'" dovxh": or rather its presence in the same Epistle is a strong confirmation of the corresponding interpretation of 1:3. The construction thus certified for Eph. 1:3 may be safely taken as determining the construction intended by St Peter. The sense implied is evidently the same as that of the words spoken to Mary Magdalene, poreuvou de; pro;" tou;" ajdelfouv" mou kai; eijpe; aujtoi'" jAnabaivnw pro;" to;n patevra mou kai; patevra uJmw'n kai; qeovn mou kai; qeo;n uJmw'n (John 20:17). See also some of the passages cited on 1 Pet. 1:2 above, p. 20f., and likewise Apoc. (Apoc. 2:7 v. l.;) 1 Pet. 3:2, 12 quater; Matt. 27:46 (with || Mark); Heb. 1:9: the application of language taken from Ps. 89:27 (and vs. 37) to our Lord in Apoc. 1:5 is perhaps a connecting link between Apoc. (Apoc. 2:7 v. l.;) 1 Pet. 3:2, 12, and again 2:27; 3:5, 21 on the one side (cf. 1 Pet. 1:6), and on the other the language of the next preceding verse of the Psalm (Ps. 89:26), “He shall cry unto me, Thou art my Father, my God,” which some Fathers (Athanasius, Cyril Alex., Theodoret) treat as fulfilled in John 20:17.

There is indeed nothing surprising in this expression of both relations in Scripture. To Jews and Greeks alike the idea expressed by the name God would be more comprehensive than the idea expressed by the name Father: summing up all such subordinate ideas as those of Maker and Ruler, it would suggest God’s relation to the universe and all its constituent parts, not to that part of it alone which is capable of sonship. Now the revelation of Fatherhood which was given in the Son of God was assuredly not meant to supersede the more universal name. He whom men had securely learned to know as their Father did not cease to be their God, or to be the God of the world of which they formed a part and in which they moved; and this relation was a primary and fundamental one, independent of the intrusion of evil. It is therefore difficult to see how either relation could have been absent from a Perfect Manhood. Conversely a renovation and expansion of the whole idea of God as the God of men and the God of His whole creation is involved in the Incarnation, as seen under those larger aspects under which it came at last to present itself to the Apostles.

In all five places of the Epistles (even in 2 Cor. 11:31, compared with the twin sentences of 13:4 and the twin passages 1 Cor. 1:23-25, 26-31) the full phrase “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” seems to point to God as the Alpha and Omega (Apoc. 1:8) of the whole “economy” of creation and redemption (cf. Eph. 1:18-23; 3:8-11), and this is illustrated by Rom. 9:5 (as a doxology); 1 Cor. 3:23; 15:24.

tou' kurivou hJmw'n jIhsou' Cristou', of our Lord Jesus Christ] This familiar and therefore too little considered phrase combines three elements with the simple personal name Jesus which is its nucleus. On the fundamental combination with Christ (Messiah), occurring first in St Peter’s exhortation on the first Christian Pentecost (Acts 2:38: cf. vs. 36), see above on 1 Pet. 1:1, p. 13. The origin of the additional combination with Lord is shown by St Peter’s previous words on the same occasion. After expounding how Jesus was Christ (Acts 2:22-32), specially with reference to the Resurrection, he goes on to comment on His exaltation by God’s right hand, followed by His outpouring of the manifestation of the Spirit, as a yet higher ascent, an ascent “into the heavens,” and thus as answering to the unique language of Ps. 110:1, “The Lord (Jehovah) said unto my Lord (Adon), Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool”: only One so exalted, he argues, could David call “my Lord” (cf. Matt. 22:45 with || Mark Luke), and Jehovah bid to sit on His own right hand. Then in a final sentence St Peter draws the double conclusion, “Let all the house of Israel therefore know assuredly that God made Him LORD as well as CHRIST” (such must be the force of the order kai; kuvrion aujto;n kai; cristovn), “this Jesus whom ye crucified.” The idea thus derived from an application of Ps. 110:1 to the Ascension and Pentecostal manifestation of the Spirit, and embodied thenceforward in the term LORD, is essentially that of Kingship (th;n basileivan and basileuvein are the words used by St Paul in the great passage, founded similarly on Ps. 110:1, 1 Cor. 15:24-27: cf. Luke 2:11), but a kingship transcending, while it includes, the Davidic kingship; exercised not from Mount Sion but from the throne of heaven. Similarly in St Paul’s Epistles the formula KURIOS IHSOUS, Jesus is Lord, stands as the fundamental and sufficient expression of Christian faith (1 Cor. 12:3; Rom. 10:9; cf. Phil. 2:11 KURIOS IHSOUS CRISTOS); and in 1 Cor. 8:6 (cf. Eph. 4:5 f.), “One Lord, [even] Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and we through Him,” stands parallel to “One God, [even] the Father, from whom are all things and we unto Him.”

It is equally necessary to observe that the same title appears in our Greek records as given to Christ during His earthly life by His disciples; in the vocative repeatedly in all four Gospels, in the nominative and other cases exclusively in St John’s Gospel, and that only after the Resurrection, though not apparently with any newly acquired force (John 20:2, [vs. 13 to;n kuvriovn mou,] vs. 18 (cf. vs. 20), vs. 25; 21:7 [cf. vs. 12]): St Thomas’s exclamation in 20:28 (with mou) stands apart, and is a transitional anticipation. On three occasions Christ applies the title to Himself; indirectly in the warning to the Twelve respecting persecution in Matt. 10:24 f. (cf. John 13:16), in association with didavskalo", G1437; next as a designation which the owner of the colt at Bethany or Bethphage would recognise (replaced by oJ didavskalo" in the analogous message to the owner of the house in Jerusalem at which the Passover was to be eaten, Matt. 26:18 with || Mark Luke), in Matt. 21:3 with ||; and lastly at the washing of the Apostles’ feet after the Last Supper (John 13:13 f.), “Yourselves call me The Teacher and The Lord, and ye say well, for so I am: if therefore I, the Lord and the Teacher,” & c. In all this early usage kuvrio", G3261, probably represents not Adon but the nearly equivalent Aramaic Mar, sometimes applied to teachers by disciples (cf. Buxtorf Lex. Rabb. 1246ff.; Keim Gesch. Jes. Naz. ii.13; iii.174); and at all events its sense is by no means identical with that of the kuvrio", G3261, of St Peter’s discourse and the apostolic Epistles. Nevertheless the two senses are closely connected. The earlier was expanded into the later, as the disciples of Jesus came to feel that in His case a unique force was added to an appellation which, as addressed to any other Rabbi, was little more than conventional. But the earlier was not lost in the later. It was by the experience of personal intimacy and discipleship that the true nature of the larger Lordship was discerned. For later disciples the words and deeds recorded in the Gospel remained the type and the basis of personal recognition of the universal Lord above.

In the combination oJ kuvrio" jIhsou'" (the Lord Jesus) kuvrio", G3261, unquestionably signifies the exaltation to Divine kingship (in St Peter’s words of Acts 1:21 it may be transitional), not the authority of a teacher over disciples. A signal early example is the “invocation” of St Stephen, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit” (Acts 7:59). Not only is oJ kuvrio" jIhsou'" never employed without special force by St Luke himself in the Acts (in the genuine text of his Gospel it does not occur at all), being always either preceded by “the name” (Acts 8:16; 19:5, 13, 17; cf. 21:13), specially with reference to baptism, or appearing as the sum of testimony or preaching (4:33; 11:20); but in the few occurrences of the phrase in the reported words of others (15:11; 16:31; 20:24 [ch. 21 v. l. with hJmw'n,]; 21:13: the only doubtful case being 20:35) the higher sense is equally obvious. To St Paul the phrase as bearing this meaning would specially commend itself, as he had no share in the earthly discipleship, while he traced both his conversion and his apostleship to the voice from heaven.

The full phrase in which the simpler combinations the Lord Jesus and Jesus Christ coalesce occurs first in St Peter’s defence of himself at Jerusalem for his reception of Cornelius (Acts 11:17), eij ou\n th;n i[shn dwrea;n e[dwken aujtoi'" oJ qeo;" wJ" kai; hJmi'n pisteuvsasin ejpi; to;n kuvrion jIhsou'n Cristovn, where it seems intended to suggest the universality of this Lordship as distinguished from the national character of the Davidic kingship. Thus in the previous visit to Cornelius at Caesarea, after declaring his “perception” (katalambavnomai) that God’s acceptance of men was not limited by nationality, St Peter had clearly distinguished the two spheres of kingship by saying first “He sent the word to the Sons of Israel declaring good tidings of peace through Jesus Christ,” and then “He is Lord of all” (Acts 10:36: cf. Rom. 10:12). The full phrase occurs but twice (or thrice) again in the Acts, and always in contexts bearing directly on the comprehension of both Jews and Gentiles under the same Lordship; Acts 15:26, with hJmw'n inserted (see below), in the letter of the apostles and elder brethren of Jerusalem to the Church of Antioch; [20:21 v. l., with hJmw'n;] 28:31, in reference to St Paul’s final preaching at Rome, “proclaiming the kingdom of God, and teaching the things concerning the Lord Jesus Christ.” In the Epistles the full phrase in this absolute form, without hJmw'n, is all but confined to solemn initial and final salutations. The final “Grace” takes this form in Phil., and perhaps in Gal., Philem., where however hJmw'n is possibly genuine (as it certainly is in 1 Thess., 2 Thess. [cf. Eph. 6:24: on 6:23 see below]), possibly also in 2 Cor., Rom. (Rom. 16:20), Cristou' being however doubtful in these two places, as it is likewise in Rev. 22:21. In all other cases (with five very doubtful exceptions, 2 Thess. 2:1 v. l.; 3:6 v. l.; 1 Cor. 6:11 v. l.; Rom. 13:14 v. l.; 2 Pet. 2:20 v. l., with kai; swth'ro") it is coupled with a preceding qeov", G2536, (to which path;r ªhJmw'nº is usually added), for the most part in initial salutations (1 Thess., 2 Thess. bis, 1 Cor., 2 Cor., Gal. v. l., Rom., Phil., Eph., Philem.), once in an almost final salutation (Eph. 6:23), and but once in the body of an epistle (2 Thess. 1:12).

Much commoner is the form which has hJmw'n (“our”) inserted, as here. The difference of idea is well brought out by the remarkable words of 1 Cor. 8:6, “and one Lord, [even] Jesus Christ, through whom are all things (ta; pavnta) and we through Him.” On the one hand the Lordship exercised by Him and “through Him” is universal, comprehending all things and all men. On the other hand, to those men who recognise and welcome Him as Lord He is in a special sense their own Lord, and this inner Lordship is as it were a covenant uniting them to Him and to each other. The outward expression of the recognition of Jesus the Christ as Lord is called “invoking Him” (ejpikalou'mai) or “invoking His name” (Acts 7:59; 9:14, 21; 22:16; 1 Cor. 1:2; Rom. 10:12 ff.; 2 Tim. 2:22). The use of this language in 1 Cor. 1:2 is specially instructive because the first ten verses of the Epistle contain the phrase “[our] Lord Jesus Christ” no less than 6 times, and that certainly not by accident: vs. 10 is an exhortation to the Corinthians, “by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,” to cherish unity and avoid divisions. It is evidently implied that the factions of the Corinthian Church were a violation of the bond of unity constituted by joint invocation of such a One as Lord (compare the connexion of Phil. 2:11 with 1 Cor. 2:2-5). So again in vs. 2 in saluting the Corinthians as men “hallowed” and “called,” St Paul joins them “with (suvn, G5250) all that invoke the name of our Lord Jesus Christ in every place, their [Lord] and ours”; that is, his inculcation of unity implicitly deprecates division from other Churches as well as internal division (cf. vs. 9 ejklhvqhte eij" koinwnivan tou' uiJou' aujtou' jIhsou' Cristou' tou' kurivou hJmw'n; and also 4:17; 7:17; 11:16; 14:33; and probably 10:32; 11:22). Further emphasis is given to this idea by the addition of the words “theirs and ours,” which are intelligible only as a resolution of the previous hJmw'n, not as qualifying tovpw/; the comprehensive term “our Lord” being taken as extending to the fellowship of all Christians everywhere with those to whom it applied in the immediate and narrower sense, that is, with St Paul and the Corinthians. So Chrysostom eij de; oJ tovpo" cwrivzei, ajllj oJ kuvrio" aujtou;" sunavptei koino;" w[n: dio; kai; eJnw'n aujtou;" ejphvgagen hJmw'n te kai; aujtw'n.

While the unity of all Christians in the One Lord whom they invoke, in conjunction with the personal relation of service in which each stands to Him, is thus doubtless the primary and constant force of the words “our Lord,” they may also have been meant to suggest more specially the bond of a common service which united an apostle to the particular church which he was addressing. Such is apparently the case in the long salutation at the beginning of Romans (see especially Rom. 1:5, 6, as following jIhsou' Cristou' tou' kurivou hJmw'n in vs. 4); and not improbably here also, since St Peter’s salutation is founded on St Paul’s, and follows it in pointing to apostleship and church membership as resting on the same Divine foundations.

oJ kata; to; polu; aujtou' e[leo", who according to His great mercy] Mercy is the attribute of God which would specially suggest itself in reference to the admission of Gentiles to the covenant (Rom. 15:9), and accordingly St Paul dwells on it in this connexion in Rom. 11:30-32, while he also looks forward to a fresh exhibition of “mercy” in the future readmission of the Jews who are now excluded by unbelief. In Eph. 2:1-4 Gentiles and believing Jews are represented as alike the objects of “mercy.” In successive sentences (vv. 1 f., 3) they are placed on the same footing as regards moral failure, just as in Rom. 2, 3, and then (Eph. 2:4) God, in virtue of being “rich in mercy” (i.e. variously merciful, plouvsio" w]n ejn ejlevei), is said to have raised them up together in Christ Jesus out of spiritual death. St Peter does not distinguish the two classes, and he speaks simply of God’s “great mercy”; but in this verse he is evidently speaking of himself, and therefore other Jewish Christians, jointly with the Gentile Christians to whom he is about to specially address himself.

ajnagennhvsa" hJma'", begat us anew, regenerated us] Except here and in 1 Pet. 1:23 the verb ajnagennavw, G335, does not occur in the Greek Bible or Apocrypha (a Western reading of John 3:5 is the chief source of its patristic use), or in extant classical literature. A single passage however of the Pseudo-Philonic tract De incorr. mundi (c. 3) suggests that the derivative ajnagevnnhsi" was used by the Stoics in the same sense as paliggenesiva, G4098, their ordinary term for the renewal of the world after its periodical conflagration; unless indeed it is due to the Jewish author of the tract himself. So also ajnagennhtikov" in Porphyry Ep. ad Aneb. 24 (repeated in the reply, De Myst. iii.28) is probably independent of Christian usage; though the same can hardly be said of the paliggenesiva, G4098, which forms the subject of one of the Hermetic writings (ff. 15-17, ed. Patr.), or of the phrase in aeternum renatus which occurs in Taurobolic inscriptions (Orelli-Henzen 2352, 6041: cf. Marquardt-Wissowa . Staatsverw. iii2 88ff.). The phrase “new creation,” adopted by St Paul in 2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 6:15, occurs repeatedly in the Midrashim with various applications ( H. H. i.704f.), and a proselyte is compared to a newborn child in the Talmud and Jalkut Rubenis (J. Lightfoot and Wetstein on John 3:3). St Peter’s language includes this conception, that of entrance into a new order of existence, but combines with it that of Divine parentage: men enter the new life as children of its Author.

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