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


:13-2:10. Exhortation to obedience in conformity to the grandeur of the Christian hope and the privileges of the Christian commonwealth



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1:13-2:10. Exhortation to obedience in conformity to the grandeur of the Christian hope and the privileges of the Christian commonwealth
13. We come now to a new paragraph, the exhortation founded on the thanksgiving prolonged through the ten preceding verses. The detailed exhortations will follow in the second part of the Epistle. Here on the other hand St Peter gathers up at the outset in general terms the principles of Christian life, first as towards God (1 Pet. 1:13-21), and then, very briefly for the moment, as towards the brethren (vv. 22-25, and see beginning of 2:1), and then as towards both God and the brethren at once, as united in a spiritual society of which Christ is the Head (2:1-10).

Diov, Wherefore] Diov looks back over all that has preceded, not at the last verse only. On the strength of the new life created by the Resurrection, of the incorruptible inheritance, of the salvation of soul which is the end of the faith, and not least of the grace which had opened the kingdom of heaven to the Gentiles, foretold by prophets, and watched eagerly by angels, St Peter bids the Asiatic Christians gird up the loins of their mind, and set their hope definitely on the true and rightful object of hope.

ajnazwsavmenoi ta;" ojsfuva" th'" dianoiva" uJmw'n, girding up the loins of your mind] The girding up of the loins was in itself merely such a gathering and fastening up of the long Eastern garments as would interfere least with running or other active motion (1 Kings 18:46; 2 Kings 4:29; 9:1 & c.). It was a symbolic act of the paschal ceremonies to denote the readiness for the prompt march out of Egypt through the desert (Exod. 12:11), and is applied to Jeremiah’s preparation for his prophetic office (Jer. 1:17: cf. Job 38:3; 40:7). Our Lord includes it in His teaching of the disciples to be as servants waiting for their Lord (Luke 12:35); and it

had a specially sacred association for St Peter personally in connexion with the feet-washing described in John 13:4-16, as we shall see when we come to 1 Pet. 5:5. In the LXX. the usual verb is perizwvnnumai. St Peter substitutes the less usual but for his purpose more expressive ajnazwvnnumai, used also in the LXX. (Prov. 29:35 = 31:17) in the description of the industrious house-wife (ajnazwsamevnh ijscurw'" th;n ojsfu;n aujth'").

“Girding up the loins” is of course the disciplined promptness which is the opposite of slackness and indolent heedlessness. The sense is partially limited by the addition of th'" dianoiva". Diavnoia is a word of wide use in Greek, answering most nearly to “mind.” It is often opposed to sw'ma, G5393, and includes all in man that thinks. In the LXX. it is hardly used except as a rare rendering of ble, H4213 or bb;le, H4222, the heart according to Hebrew speech being treated as the centre of thought as well as of every other human energy. Kardiva is immeasurably oftener the rendering, even in places exactly like those in which we find diavnoia, G1379; but there can be little doubt that diavnoia, G1379, was simply snatched at irregularly and inconsistently by the translators to express what seemed to them the meaning best suited to the context. Its use by them in Deut. 6:5 has given it a prominent place in the N.T., since Matthew (Matt. 22:37), Mark (Mark 12:30), and Luke (Luke 10:27) all combine it with the other rendering kardiva, G2840, in the Duty towards God. It was perhaps suggested to St Peter by Eph. 4:18, where it belongs to St Paul’s exposition of the foolishness, unreality, and falsehood of the view of the world generally prevalent among the heathen and to his exhibition of the Gospel as a message of truth as well as of salvation. Our Epistle has at least two other traces of this vein of thought, th'/ uJpakoh'/ th'" ajlhqeiva" in 1 Pet. 1:22, and to; logiko;n a[dolon gavla in 2:1: and accordingly here it is to a moral discipline of thought and reason that St Peter appears chiefly to incite the Asiatic Christians, as opposed to an indolent and passive surrender to superficial views and impressions.

nhvfonte" teleivw", being sober with a perfect sobriety] A question arises here whether teleivw", G5458, belongs to nhvfonte" or to ejlpivsate: the former is assumed by Oecumen., the latter adopted by most though not all moderns. St Peter’s prevalent usage elsewhere suggests a presumption in favour of taking an adverb with a verb that precedes rather than with a verb that follows. In 1 Pet. 1:22 we have ajgaphvsate ejktenw'"; 2:19 pavscwn ajdivkw"; 2:23 krivnonti dikaivw", though tw'/ precedes. Against these examples there is nothing to set but 4:5, tw'/ eJtoivmw" krivnonti, where the order is explained by the necessity of bringing krivnonti next to zw'nta" kai; nekrouv". Nhvfein is simply to be “sober” in the strict sense, i.e. as opposed to drunkenness. But it was sometimes used, as in the N.T., in a figurative sense for a mental state free from all perturbations or stupefactions, clear, calm, vigilant. So Ep. Platon. vii.340 D para; pavnta de; ajei; filosofiva" ejcovmeno" kai; trofh'" th'" kaqj hJmevran h{ti" a]n aujto;n mavlista eujmaqh' te kai; mnhvmona kai; logivzesqai dunato;n ejn auJtw'/ nhvfonta ajpergavshtai; Plut. Eumen. xvi.593 D Antigonus tou' Peukevstou pantavpasin ejklelumevnw" kai; ajgennw'" ajgwnisamevnou kai; th;n ajposkeuh;n e[labe pa'san auJtw'/ te nhvfonti crhsavmeno" para; ta; deina; kai; k.t.l.; Epicharm. ap. Luc. Hermotim. 47 Na'fe kai; mevmnasj ajpistei'n. This and more than this appears to be implied in teleivw", G5458, which in a manner corresponds to th'" dianoiva". They were called on to be sober with a perfect sobriety, one entering into all their thoughts and ways, free from every kind of mental or spiritual intoxication, and thus able to have every faculty at full command, to look all facts and all considerations deliberately in the face. It is the opposite of heedless drifting as in a mist (blevpete ajkribw'" Eph. 5:15). For this moral nh'yi" cf. 1 Thess. 5:6, 8; 2 Tim. 4:5 (nh'fe ejn pa'sin): in the latter place it seems to be opposed to the morbid habit of mind which craves for fables rather than the naked truth.

ejlpivsate ejpi; th;n feromevnhn... jIhsou' Cristou', set your hope upon the grace which is being brought to you in the revelation of Jesus Christ] jElpivzw with a preposition is confined to the LXX. and to writings which show a knowledge of it, as Apocr., N.T., Josephus. This use comes from a literal copying of Hebrew use, the several verbs rendered by ejlpivzw, G1827, being followed by B], l], la,, and l[', though the distinction between different prepositions is very imperfectly preserved. No Hebrew word exactly answers to ejlpivzw, G1827, spero, “hope,” and a more precise rendering of the five verbs which it represents would be “to trust,” “to flee to,” “to wait.” The substantive in connexion with ejn, G1877, or eij", G1650, or ejpiv, G2093, with either dative or accusative is apparently never the object of hope but always its ground, not the thing hoped for but that which makes hope possible; yet note Sir. 2:9 ejlpivsate eij" ajgaqa; kai; eij" eujfrosuvnhn k.t.l., where Fritzsche refers to Jer. 8:15, 14:19 for l], hw:q;, H7747, hope (wait) for (in neither place does LXX. use ejlpivzw, G1827). Accordingly it is to Jehovah Himself that hope is in most cases said to be directed. The passages which come nearest to St Peter’s ejpi; th;n cavrin are Ps. 77:22 (78:22), oujde; h[lpisan ejpi; to; swthvrion aujtou'; 51:10 (52:10), h[lpisa ejpi; to; e[leo" tou' qeou' eij" to;n aijw'na; in both places ejlpivzein represents jf'B;, H1053 (trust); 32:18 (33:18), oiJ ojfqalmoi; Kurivou ejpi; tou;" foboumevnou" aujtovn, tou;" ejlpivzonta" ejpi; to; e[leo" aujtou'; 146:11 (147:11) (the same words); in both passages the Hebrew verb is lj'y:, H3498 (wait). In the N.T. we have (when a person is the cause of hope) ejlpivzw eij" in John 5:45; 2 Cor. 1:10; 1 Pet. 3:5; ejpiv, G2093, dat. in 1 Tim. 4:10; 6:17; ejpiv, G2093, acc. in 1 Tim. 5:5. In these last three places from 1 Tim. a real difference of sense appears from the contexts to go with the difference of case, the dat. being simply to hope on God, the acc. to set hope on God: this difference of rest and motion being what we should expect with the two cases. And so here likewise the acc. probably means “set your hope on the grace,” i.e. rest securely on the grace and treat it as an assurance justifying all possible hope.

th;n feromevnhn uJmi'nº Fevromai can hardly have been used here in the physical sense of rapid motion. Nor is it really illustrated by Heb. 6:1; 9:16; 2 Pet. 1:17, 18, 21. It is merely the passive of fevrw, G5770, in its commonest sense “bring,” modified by the dative, implying bringing for the benefit of another, not simply giving but something more, bringing as a gift. This use is very common in the LXX. for men’s offerings to God: but it occurs also for God’s gifts to men Ps. 77:29 (78:29); II Isa. 60:17; and also Wisd. 10:14; and (pass.) Sir. 47:6. The force of the sense “bringing” lies in the previous remoteness of the Asiatics as Gentiles (Acts 2:39 pa'si toi'" eij" markavn; and still more emphatically Eph. 2:13, 17, the whole passage vv. 13-22 being an expansion of what St Peter means by the cavri", G5921). Thus the choice of verb here answers in a manner to the choice of preposition in 1 Pet. 1:10 (th'" eij" uJma'" cavrito"), the same cavri", G5921, being meant in both places. The present tense excludes reference to a grace or a revelation in so far as it had been already received, and in like manner ejn ajpok. jI. C. cannot be separated from the same phrase in 1 Pet. 1:7, where certainly the revelation made in our Lord’s past coming cannot be exclusively meant. But this need create no difficulty in respect of the grace shown to the Gentiles, which in one sense did already belong to the past in virtue of their actual admission. That admission was, strictly speaking, rather the entrance into the grace than the grace itself. On the other hand though the present tense is in this instance compatible with a future reference, so that the revelation might be the final revelation of the Great Day, this sense does not go well with the use of cavrin, G5920. Thus the force of the participle is strictly present. The grace is ever being brought, and brought in fresh forms, in virtue of the continuing and progressing unveiling of Jesus Christ. God’s favour, the expression of His love through His gifts, is perceptible in and through the knowledge of His Son. To set hope on this grace was to take it as the great determining fact in the events of the future, the sure antidote to all pessimistic thoughts suggested by the daily increase of manifold trials. At the end of the Epistle St Peter recurs to the same thought in another form (1 Pet. 5:12). He has written, he says, bearing his testimony that this is a true grace of God: eij" h}n sth'te (right reading), “unto which stand ye fast.” But hope set on the grace implies what is more fundamental still, hope on God Himself, and of that St Peter speaks 1 Pet. 1:21.

14. The construction is somewhat irregular here. If we are to regard style alone, we must (with Hofmann) join vs. 14 to vs. 13, and let the new sentence begin with ajllav, G247, thus making ejlpivsate and genhvqhte correspond to each other. This is however a sacrifice of sense to smoothness. jAllav clearly marks a contrast, and there is no contrast of sense between vs. 15 and vs. 13, but an obvious one between vs. 15 and vs. 14. Moreover the breadth and absoluteness of vs. 13 is weakened by having vs. 14 tacked on to it. The usual and right construction, beginning with a participial clause without a conjunction, is supported by the more peculiar but indubitable example of vs. 22. The slight irregularity in the words leading to the verb will have to be examined presently.

wJ" tevkna uJpakoh'", as children of obedience] Certainly suggested by toi'" uiJoi'" th'" ajpeiqiva" in Eph. 2:2 (cf. 5:6), a passage which, as we shall see presently, has left other traces here. The phrase in Eph. denotes the heathen, and hJ ajpeiqiva (the disobedience) is probably intended as a collective term for the moral anarchy of heathenism (compare the analogous collective term hJ plavnh in Eph. 4:14; 1 John 4:6; and probably hJ ajpavth Eph. 4:22); “the sons of the disobedience” being opposed to “the sons of the kingdom” (Matt. 8:12; 13:38). The form of expression is of course borrowed from the Hebrew (see Ges. Thes. i.217), and to that extent may be called a Hebraism: but there is no reason to doubt that the figurative Hebrew form was deliberately chosen as better expressive of the apostles’ meaning than a descriptive and purely Greek phrase would have been. Those are called sons or children of an impersonal object, who draw from it the impulses or principles which mould their lives from within, and who are as it were its visible representatives and exponents to others in their acts and speech. Compare also 1 Pet. 3:6: children of Abraham were children of his obedience, the obedience of faith (Heb. 11:8). With the other uses of the Hebrew image of sonship we are not now concerned. St Peter’s phrase differs from St Paul’s in the use of the vague tevkna for uiJoiv and in the absence of an article before the substantive in the genitive. Doubtless he meant by obedience rather the principle of obedience than the region or realm pervaded by it.

But, while St Peter thus borrows, with modification, a form of phrase from Eph., the word uJpakohv, G5633, itself is an echo of the eij" uJpakohvn of vs. 2, which, as we saw, is the obedience involved in the Christian covenant, consecrated with the blood of Christ, answering to the earlier obedience involved in God’s covenant with Israel, consecrated with the blood of animal sacrifices, as set forth in Exod. 24:7, 8. Hearkening to God’s voice, and following its guidance, is what St Peter takes as the prime motive for one who has been admitted into the Christian covenant, the opposite of such a relation to obedience (for those who are within the covenant) being that hardening of the heart of which the xcvth Ps. speaks, and to which the Epistle to the Hebrews gives such prominence (Heb. 3:7-4:11), calling it at the same time ajpeiqiva.

JUpakohv will meet us once again (1 Pet. 1:22), (uJpakouvw, G5634, only in an irrelevant passage, 3:6): and we have ajpeiqevw, G578, 2:8; 3:1, 20; 4:17.

mh; sunschmatizovmenoi, not fashioning yourselves] This verb, here probably derived from Rom. 12:2, is “to acquire an outer form or fashion in accordance with.” It is a late and not very common word. The force of it in actual usage appears to be not so much “to be fashioned in the likeness of” as “to be fashioned in accordance or congruity with”; not therefore here to take the same fashion as the desires, but to take a fashion suitable to the demands of the desires. Thus Clem. Paed. ii.4 (p. 194 ed. Potter) says of the Word that sunarmovzetai kai; suschmativzetai kairoi'", proswvpoi", tovpoi". On sch'ma, G5386, as the outward changeable fashion, in contrast to morfhv, G3671, the permanent and essential form, see Lightfoot on Phil. pp. 125-131. Between our passage on the one hand and two passages of St Paul, Rom. 12:2 (as above) and 1 Cor. 7:31 paravgei ga;r to; sch'ma tou' kovsmou touvtou, there is an interesting link in 1 John 2:17, where both kovsmo", G3180, and ejpiqumiva, G2123, are said paravgesqai, and the permanence attached to doing the will of God reminds us of 1 Pet. 1:15 combined with 4:2. Compare the language used by Tert. (De Cor. v.): Substantia tibi a deo tradita est, habitus a saeculo.

tai'" provteron...ejpiqumivai", according to your former lusts] The force of provteron is fixed by ejn th'/ ajgnoiva/ uJmw'n: it means the former time before they received the Gospel. Such desires were of course not extinguished still; but they were characteristic of the old time, and now they were in great measure held in check by the new desires of the Spirit (cf. Gal. 5:17). The use of provteron probably comes from Eph. 4:22 ajpoqevsqai uJma'" kata; th;n protevran ajnastrofh;n to;n palaio;n a[nqrwpon. The word ejpiqumivai" was probably suggested by the same passage of Eph. which just above suggested tevkna uJpakoh'", viz. Eph. 2:3, where the sense is very similar (cf. Eph. 4:22). See also Rom. 6:12, where there is mention of obedience (uJpakouvein, cf. uJpakohv, G5633) to the desires of the body. The evil character attributed to desires by the apostles belongs not so much to the desires intrinsically as to their being accepted as guides to conduct, the practical investment of them with a kind of authority. In Eph. 4:2 (cited just now) the word ajnqrwvpwn contrasts the sphere of desire with the will of God. But further there is force in the plural (ejpiqumivai) which is generally used, and which in 2 Tim. 3:6 and Titus 3:3 is strengthened by the epithet poikivlai. Desires are represented as so many separate disconnected individual impulses having no root beyond themselves, and not forming part of a great and worthy whole. The capriciousness of the standards which they supply corresponds to the somewhat depreciatory meaning of sch'ma, G5386. Conduct ruled by desires is irregular and erratic, at the mercy of outward circumstances, not moulded by a consistent principle of life within.

ejn th'/ ajgnoiva/ uJmw'n, in the time of your ignorance] This word is one of the battle-fields of dispute as to the Jewish or Gentile origin of the Christians addressed. [Agnoia, ajgnoevw, ajgnovhma (Bleek, Brief an die Hebr., iii. pp. 37, 511), are to a certain extent used in the LXX. and Apocrypha (as indeed in other late Greek literature), partly for offences committed unwittingly, partly for offences which it is desired to speak of leniently, as we talk of “follies” or “mistakes,” and the same usage appears in the N.T. in Heb. 9:7 and probably 5:2. It is urged that there is also an allusion to it in St Peter’s speech in Acts 3:17, which certainly refers to the Jews, and that there is here a corresponding reference to Jewish sin before the Resurrection and Ascension as a pardonable a[gnoia, G53. On the other hand it is equally certain that St Paul at Athens addressing heathen spoke of tou;" crovnou" th'" ajgnoiva" (Acts 17:30); that Eph. 4:18 expressly refers to heathen as darkened in mind, alienated from the life of God, dia; t. a[gnoian th;n ou\san ejn aujtoi'"; and that it is often said of the heathen in the O.T. and implied in the N.T. that they knew not God. Moreover here there is no force in a reference to pardonable misconduct. It is therefore most natural to suppose that St Peter is referring to the time of darkness before the true Light had shone upon the Gentiles, though the word would certainly not be inapplicable to such converts as might formerly have been Jews. How much there was in common in the two classes is indicated by St Paul in the emphatic language of Eph. 2:3.

15. ajlla; kata; to;n kalevsanta uJma'" a{gion, but like as he which called you is holy] Katav has here virtually its ordinary sense, “in conformity to,” expressing the relation of a copy to its pattern. Of course it answers to sunschmatizovmenoi. Some standard or other will in practice be followed: let it be, St Peter says, not a fashioning after random desires, but an imitation of the Holy God. Here once more we have a form of phrase suggested by Eph. 2:2 which contains not only kata; t. aijw'na t. kovsmou touvtou (impersonal), but kata; to;n a[rconta t. ejxousiva" t. ajevro": and again by Eph. 4:24 t. kaino;n a[nqrwpon to;n kata; qeo;n ktisqevnta ejn dikaiosuvnh/ kai; oJsiovthti th'" ajlhqeiva", where the meaning “in the likeness of God” is fixed upon kata; qeovn partly by ktisqevnta, partly by the fuller phrase in the parallel passage (Col. 3:10), where katj eijkovna tou' ktivsanto" aujtovn actually occurs. For another instance of katav, G2848, in this sense as applied to a person compare kata; jIsaavk in Gal. 4:28 (see the notes of Kypke and Wetstein on this verse for classical examples). The special nature of the likeness here intended is expressed in a{gion kai; aujtoi; a{gioi.


to;n kalevsanta uJma'"] This word “call” is a favourite one with St Paul (e.g. Eph. 4:1, 4). Its special force here, as denoting the calling of the Gentiles, appears in Rom. 9:24 ou}" kai; ejkavlesen hJma'" ouj movnon ejx jIoudaivwn ajlla; kai; ejx ejqnw'n, followed by the (modified) quotation (kalevsw to;n ouj laovn mou laovn mou) from Hosea 1:6, 9, 10 (containing kalevw, G2813, in a somewhat different sense), itself referred to by St Peter in 1 Pet. 2:10. St Peter uses the word in a similar sense again in 2:9, 21; 3:9; 5:10.

a{gion] For this word we must go a little forward to the next verse, the present verse being expressly founded on the words of Leviticus there quoted. Those words occur with slight modifications several times. In Lev. 11:44, 45 they are the important words of a duplicate conclusion [Dillm.] to a long chapter on things clean and unclean. In 19:2 they stand still more emphatically at the head of a chapter of miscellaneous laws, chiefly of a moral character: “Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say unto them, Ye shall be holy: for I the Lord your God am holy.” Finally they occur in 20:7 (LXX. in Heb. the holiness of God is not mentioned), 26. Passages like these distinctly attest the moral and religious purpose which pervaded the Levitical legislation in the form in which we now have it, and St Peter’s appeal to their testimony resembles our Lord’s appeal to Lev. 19:18 for the love of our neighbour. They carry us beyond the common idea of holiness as a separation for consecration to God, since they turn on the human imitation of the holiness of God, and in this sense holiness cannot be ascribed to Him. We are thus led to ask what is meant by holiness in God. The epithet holy, or the name The Holy One, is applied to God in many books of the O.T.; but it is not easy to seize the precise force of it. The best account of it is in Delitzsch’s article in Herzog2 v. pp. 714-718, in which he makes considerable use of previous discussions (chiefly by Diestel and Baudissin). [For the Semitic use outside the O.T. see the Phoenician inscription of Eschmunazar (cf. Dan. 4:8, 9, 18; 5:11) and a bilingual formula of adjuration in which the Assyrian Kadistu answers to the Sumerian nu-gig, free from disease; both cited by Delitzsch, p. 715.] The Heb. v/dq;, H7705, is apparently derived from the simple root dq'“to divide”; but the meaning does not appear to be “separate” in the sense of aloofness or remoteness, but rather of eminence or perfection. It seems to include both immunity from defect and immunity from defilement or disease, completeness and purity. It answers nearly to the negative phrase in James 1:13 oJ ga;r qeo;" ajpeivrastov" ejstin kakw'n, without experience of evil, having no contact with evil, ajpeivrasto", G585, being in late Greek confused with ajpeivrato". According to this interpretation it is interesting to compare the wonderful saying which closes that section of the Sermon on the Mount which treats of the fulfilment of the Law in Matt. 5:17-48: [Esesqe ou\n uJmei'" tevleioi wJ" oJ path;r uJmw'n oJ oujravnio" tevleiov" ejstin. This saying, though founded directly on Deut. 18:13 (cf. Gen. 17:1), appears by its form to contain also a reminiscence of Leviticus; and, though tevleio", G5455, probably stands for µymiT;, H9459, the affinity of sense with v/dq;will account for the combination. {Agio" will thus express (so to speak) personal and intrinsic perfectness, as distinguished from divkaio", G1465, which expresses perfectness of dealing towards other beings. In the N.T., except in association with pneu'ma, a{gio" is very rarely applied to God. In John 17:11 we have pavter a{gie (followed in vs. 25 by p. divkaie); 1 John 2:20 kai; uJmei'" crivsma e[cete ajpo; t. aJgivou; and in Rev. 4:8 (cf. 3:7; 6:10) the Tris Hagion from Isaiah. In reference to Christ see Mark 1:24 || Luke 4:34; John 6:69: also Acts 3:14; 4:27, 30; Apoc. 3:7 (? 6:10). St Peter’s use of the word is doubtless to be taken in connexion with his appeal to the Christian covenant as standing in the place of the ancient covenant with the Holy One of Israel, a name much used in Isaiah (both parts), and occurring in other books.

kai; aujtoi; a{gioi...genhvqhte, do ye yourselves also show yourselves holy] First as regards the construction, the only irregularity consists in the presence of kai; aujtoiv. Take these words away and the sentence becomes quite smooth: “not fashioning yourselves in accordance with your old desires, but living in imitation of the holy God, show yourselves holy.” The connexion however of sense between the second adjectival clause and the principal sentence which follows was so close that it was a real gain to draw them together, as it were resumptively, by inserting kai; aujtoiv, although the result was to leave the first adjectival clause hanging (mh; sunschmatizovmenoi k.t.l.).




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