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


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As to the principal sentence itself, we must not lose the force of genhvqhte, which is not equivalent to ejstev or e[sesqe. We have two modifications of sense in givnomai, G1181, to choose from. It might be “become holy,” implying previous unholiness—a sense which does not suit the language of the chapter. But it may as easily be “show yourselves holy,” “become” being used as to manifestation, not as to essence. The h|" ejgenhvqhte tevkna of 1 Pet. 3:6 is or may be precisely similar. The meaning then is “show yourselves holy, as you are,” “show forth in your lives the character of holiness which you possess. Be worthy of it.” Implicitly, therefore, the phrase points to the frequent language of the O.T. about Israel as a holy people, holy to Jehovah; and accordingly near the end of the first part of the Epistle (2:9) St Peter says explicitly uJmei'" de; gevno" ejklektovn, basivleion iJeravteuma, e[qno" a{gion (from Exod. 19:6). This holiness is undoubtedly the holiness of consecration or sanctity: the holiness of act represented by it is the conduct which befits members of a people consecrated to Jehovah. But the language of Leviticus shows that according to O.T. belief the consecration of men to God is itself moral, and is worthy of Him only in so far as it involves assimilation to Him by perfectness and purity of life. The Talmud [Nedarim fol. 32 a, R. Judah in the name of Rab; quoted by , Neue  zur  der Evang., p. 74] attributes to Rab this saying, “In the hour when Jehovah spake to our father Abraham ‘Walk before me, and be thou perfect’ (Gen. 17:1), Abraham was frightened. He thought to himself, ‘Is there perchance something worthy of blame in me?’ But when he heard the words [they come in the next verse] ‘I will make my covenant between me and thee,’—his mind became at rest.”

To us this seems a commonplace, but it could not be so to men born in heathendom. Although Greek philosophy spoke of “assimilation to God,” Greek literature is full of the vain struggle to find in imitation of the Gods a religious base for morality in the face of the immoralities which the popular mythology ascribed to the Gods. In receiving with the Gospel the faith in the Holy One of Israel, the heathen were furnished with a standard of living and aspiration which abolished the fatal chasm between morality and religion.

This force of genhvqhte comes out clearly in the preceding words ejn pavsh/ ajnastrofh'/. Being holy as members of a holy people, they were to show themselves holy in every kind of dealings with other men. This is the true sense of ajnastrofhv, G419, (cf. Hicks in Classical Review, i. p. 6), admirably expressed in conversatio and in the old usage of “conversation,” though the modern change of usage has hopelessly damaged the word for biblical use; we can however still speak of “converse.” This figurative sense of ajnastrofhv, G419, is not found in the LXX. proper, and the figurative use of the verb but rarely (1 Kings 6:15 (not in B); Prov. 20:7; Ezek. 3:15: cf. Josh. 5:5; Ezek. 19:6). But in Tobit 4:14 exactly as here, provsece seautw'/, paidivon, ejn pa'si toi'" e[rgoi" sou, kai; i[sqi pepaideumevno" ejn pavsh/ ajnastrofh'/ sou (cf. 2 Macc. 5:8 v.l.; 6:23 v.l.), and in N.T. (Epp. only) and Joseph. both are common. The usage is no Hebraism, being not uncommon in Polyb. and other late writers. It expresses the going up and down among men in the various intercourse of life. Different kinds of ajnastrofhv, G419, are to be spoken of further on in the Epistle: here at the outset St Peter lays down what is true for them all. These words are favourites with St Peter (1 Pet. 1:17, 18; 2:12; 3:1, 2, 16).

16. diovti gevgraptai, because it is written] Diovti, slightly stronger than o{ti, G4022, is used by St Peter in the two places where he expressly cites the O.T., here and 1 Pet. 2:6; also to introduce the five-line passage from Isa. 40 in 1 Pet. 1:24. The only remaining quotation made otherwise than indirectly, Ps. 33:13-17 in 1 Pet. 3:10-12, is introduced by gavr, G1142.

o{ti a{gioi e[sesqe, o{ti ejgw; a{gio", ye shall be holy; for I am holy] {Oti before a{gioi, though omitted in most MSS., including some good ones, is probably right, and was omitted because in the sense of “that” it would not suit with e[sesqe. It is really little more than an equivalent for our inverted commas. See Moulton’s note in Winer-Moulton, p. 683. He gives Mark 4:21; 8:4 as exx. of o{ti, G4022, before a question, and 2 Thess. 3:10 before an imperative.

e[sesqe is the true reading, not gevnesqe, which is Syrian. The imperative found in some versions is ambiguous, the imperative being likewise much used by them in Matt. 5:48, where in Greek the imperative is confined to a single cursive. Here the Greek gevnesqe is doubtless due to the same impulse, to make imperative in form what was obviously imperative in sense.

For o{ti, G4022, a few good documents have diovti, G1484: but the evidence is not sufficient, and the repetition improbable in itself.

eijmiv, G1639, after a{gio", G41, is spurious. There is some variation as to its presence or absence in the LXX. in the several passages of Leviticus.

17. kai; eij patevra...kata; to; eJkavstou e[rgon, and if ye invoke as father him who without respect of persons judgeth according to each man’s work] The opening words are probably founded on Jer. 3:19, “And I said, Thou shalt [A.V.; Ye shall, R.V.] call me My Father,” where all LXX. MSS. have a plural verb, and B and other MSS. have rightly kai; ei\pa (or ei\pon), altered in ac.bAQ to eij, G1623, a corruption which is probably older than St Peter. All the chief MSS. have kalevsete or -ate: but kalei'sqe and ejpikalevsasqe occur also among the readings. This is the only passage where we have the double accusative after ejpikalou'mai (except with mavrtura, as in 2 Cor. 1:23 and classical writers): its combination with the name father occurs again in Ps. 88:27, aujto;" ejpikalevsetaiv me Pathvr mou ei\ suv k.t.l. In any case the middle ejpikalou'mai, as distinguished from the active ejpikalw', cannot mean simply to call anyone by a name. jEpikalou'mai retains its full force of “invoke,” “appeal to for aid,” though it may have the secondary accusative for the character in which God is invoked. In both O.T. and N.T. to; o[noma frequently follows ejpikalou'mai, and when used in this connexion the verb probably implies invocation of a name. So in Test. xii Patr., Levi 5, Levi says to the angel, Devomai kuvrie, eijpev moi to; o[nomav sou, i{na ejpikalevswmaiv se ejn hJmevra/ qlivyew".

Hence patevra ejpikalei'sqe may be taken together as only a more precise ejpikalei'sqe, and we need not take to;n...krivnonta as the subject and patevra as the predicate; which would have the serious difficulty of making the exhortation to fear depend not on God’s impartial judgment but on His Fatherhood.

It is impossible to say confidently whether patevra ejpikalei'sqe is a reference to the invocation in the Lord’s Prayer, but it is very likely. This Epistle contains no other explicit reference to the filial relation of Christians, though it is probably implied in 1 Pet. 1:3 (ajnagennhvsa"), in 1:22 f. (eij" filadelfivan...ajnageg. oujk ejk spora'" k.t.l.), in 2:2 (ajrtigevnnhta brevfh k.t.l.), and perhaps in 1:14 just above (wJ" tevkna uJpakoh'"), if the actual sonship to God be understood as carrying with it the figurative sonship to obedience, obedience being the characteristic virtue of children.

The word ajproswpolhvmptw", G719, occurs here for the first time. The adj. is sometimes used by the fathers. It belongs to a group of words and phrases based exclusively on Hebrew use, and not found in classical literature. The phrase ynEP] ac;n:, “to receive (some say, to lift up) the face of,” is much used in different books of the O.T. for receiving with favour an applicant, whether in a good or a bad sense. A phrase denoting the reception of particular persons with favour came easily to be specially used for cases of perversion of such reception, reception with undue favour, i.e. favouritism, partiality; whatever be the ground of partiality, bribery or anything else. Of the various more or less literal LXX. renderings the N.T. has three, lambavnw provswpon, prosdevcomai pr., and qaumavzw pr. Doubtless these and the derivatives of lamb. pr. were freely used in Palestinian Greek.

Passing from the word to the occasions on which it is used in a sense bearing on our passage, we find it prominent in the great declaration made by St Peter when he was summoned from Joppa to Caesarea in consequence of the vision seen by Cornelius (Acts 10:34), ajnoivxa" de; Pevtro" to; stovma ei\pen jEpj ajlhqeiva" katalambavnomai o{ti oujk e[stin proswpolhvmpth" oJ qeov", ajllj ejn panti; e[qnei oJ fobouvmeno" aujto;n kai; ejrgazovmeno" dikaiosuvnhn dekto;" aujtw'/ ejstivn. This explicit abjuration of the exclusive covenant of Israel is founded on the character of God as no respecter of persons, free from partiality to one nation above other nations; and the conditions of acceptance laid down are fear of God (fobouvmeno" as ejn fovbw/ here) and working of righteousness (ejrgazovmeno" as e[rgon, G2240, here). Once more the same phrase is urged in support of the same doctrine by St Paul in Rom. 2:10, 11, dovxa de;...panti; tw'/ ejrgazomevnw/ to; ajgaqovn, jIoudaivw/ te prw'ton kai; {Ellhni: ouj gavr ejstin proswpolhmyiva para; tw'/ qew'/; these words are preceded a few lines higher up by a reference to the revelation dikaiokrisiva" t. qeou', o}" ajpodwvsei eJkavstw/ kata; ta; e[rga aujtou'. The last six words again come from Ps. 61:12 (62:12), where however the Heb. has the sing. work, though the LXX. has ta; e[rga.

On the one hand then St Peter’s words are a virtual appeal to the charter of the universality of the Gospel. On the other (for they are two-edged words) they are the repetition of an ancient warning under changed circumstances. The application of the phrase to God was not invented by St Peter at Caesarea: he took it from Deut. 10:17 (Heb.; ouj qaumavzei provswpon LXX.), where it is part of the address ascribed to Moses, “And now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee but to fear the Lord thy God, &c.,” words calling for an inward circumcision, and virtually urging that God, as being “no respecter of persons,” in spite of their peculiar relation to Him will not pass over their misdeeds. In like manner St Peter doubtless wished to intimate that under the new covenant, as under the old, God would show no favour to the children of the covenant if their works proved them unworthy of it. That is, the same principle, so to speak, the same attribute or character of God which had brought Gentiles within His fold had also its warning for Gentile Christians who lived heedless and reckless lives.

krivnonta (pres.), not krinou'nta, which is actually the reading of C. The judgment is not future only, but always proceeding: cf. Rom. 2:16, where the context suggests that ejn h|/ hJmevra/ is the day then present. Compare also John 12:31.

kata; to; eJkavstou e[rgon] Each, whoever he may be, Jew or Gentile, Christian or heathen: probably from Rom. 2:6: but see also Rom. 14:12; 1 Cor. 3:13 & c.

to; e[rgon is collective: the sum of all his own personal action, in thought word and deed. So virtually now and then in the O.T., but see especially 1 Cor. 3:13-15; Gal. 6:4; and perhaps more than either Rom. 2:15 (see note on krivnonta) in reference to those heathen who do by nature the things of the law as showing to; e[rgon tou' novmou grapto;n ejn t. kardivai" aujtw'n.

ejn fovbw/ to;n t. paroikiva" uJmw'n crovnon ajnastravfhte, live towards others in fear all the time of your sojourning] The sense of ejn fovbw/ is limited by the distinct word ajnastravfhte. The meaning is not “live (or pass) in fear all the time of your sojourning,” a sense which ajnastravfhte never has; but rather “live towards others in fear all the time of your sojourning”: i.e. let your demeanour in the intercourse of life be restrained, regulated, and guarded by the presence of fear.

ejn fovbw/ is quite general. It is hardly possible to speak of the good or evil of fear without falling into contradictions. There is a fear which is the reverence of a child for its father, of a creature for its creator; and this fear, which does not degrade them, but uplifts them, “is the beginning of wisdom.” There is a servile fear which may be salutary in a low spiritual state, but which contains nothing ennobling, and is cast out by the love to which God’s children are called. The right and worthy fear of God which is set forth so prominently in the O.T. and taken up in the N.T. is at bottom the source of any fear which is good; so St Paul says 2 Cor. 7:1 ejpitelou'nte" aJgiwsuvnhn ejn fovbw/ qeou' (see the context). But here there is no direct reference to any definite object of fear. The fear meant is the opposite of a bold and reckless and unguarded plunging into all manner of relations with all manner of men, whether from over-confidence or from a disregard of the stricter requirements of a holy standard.

Thus in Rom. 11:21, a passage unlike in language to this but including the sense of ajproswpolhvmptw", G719, St Paul says mh; uJyhla; frovnei ajlla; fobou'; compare Phil. 2:12 meta; fovbou kai; trovmou th;n eJautw'n swthrivan katergavzesqe. This fear is thus closely related to nhvfonte" teleivw" in 1 Pet. 1:13, and to St Paul’s blevpete ajkribw'" pw'" peripatei'te in Eph. 5:15.

to;n t. paroikiva" uJmw'n crovnonº Paroikiva" carries us back to the phrase parepidhvmoi" diaspora'" in 1 Pet. 1:1. Pavroiko", parepivdhmo", and proshvluto", G4670, are the three principal LXX. renderings of the two Hebrew words bv;/T, H9369 and rGE, H1731, expressing the position of a sojourner among the inhabitants of a land which is not his own (see note on 1 Pet. 1:1, p. 15). Two aspects of this sojourning are together included here. The Asiatic Christians were sojourners scattered among a population of other beliefs and other standards of life from their own. In this sense the word was specially chosen here with reference to ajnastravfhte, because the conditions of their sojourning compelled them to enter into all sorts of relations with the heathen around them. But they were also sojourners on earth. As Christians, they belonged to a present living commonwealth in the heavens, and hoped to become visibly and completely its citizens hereafter. Here we have doubtless an allusion to Jacob’s words to Pharaoh, Gen. 47:9 “The days of the years of my life a}" paroikw' are an hundred and thirty years”: and again “the days of the years of the life of my fathers a}" hJmevra" parwv/khsan.” Compare Ps. 39:12, one of the two places in the LXX. where parepivdhmo", G4215, occurs, pavroiko" ejgw; ejn th'/ gh'/ kai; parepivdhmo" “as all my fathers were.” With this sense we must connect the insertion of to;n crovnon, comparing it with 1 Pet. 4:2, 3. There was a “past” space of time (4:3), that of their heathenism; there was now a second space of time, ejn sarkiv (4:2), a time of sojourning among heathen. The future remained, at the end of both.

18. eijdovte" o{ti ouj fqartoi'", ajrgurivw/ h] crusivw/, ejlutrwvqhte, knowing that not with corruptible things, with silver or gold, were ye ransomed] The eijdovte" o{ti is an appeal to an elementary Christian belief. The phrase is common in St Paul.

The words that next follow are apparently founded on Isa. 52:3 (ouj meta; ajrgurivou lutrwqhvsesqe). Ouj fqartoi'", ajrgurivw/ h] crusivw/ is apparently inserted to bring out into stronger relief what follows in 1 Pet. 1:19-21: fqartoi'" as ajpollumevnou in vs. 7. In itself lutrovw, G3390, (an important word in the N.T.) has a precise meaning, to set free on the receipt of a luvtron, G3389, or price of release, i.e. ransom; and the middle lutrovomai, to procure a release by a ransom. It thus chiefly refers to deliverance, without violence, from captors, whether enemies in war or robbers. The LXX. use will meet us in connexion with the next verse. Here the whole context shows that the proper and common sense “ransom” is meant.

ejk th'" mataiva" uJmw'n ajnastrofh'", from your vain manner of life] Here the pre-Christian or heathen manner of life and intercourse is evidently opposed to the holy and careful manner of life and intercourse befitting the Christian calling (vv. 15, 17), directed to high purposes and in part at least attaining them.

It is called a vain manner of life and intercourse, as St Paul (Eph. 4:17) says that the Gentiles walk (peripatei' answering roughly to ajnastrofh'") ejn mataiovthti tou' noo;" aujtw'n, “in the vanity of their mind” (cf. Rom. 1:21). In Acts 14:15 Paul and Barnabas at Lystra speak of idolatrous worship as tau'ta ta; mavtaia (as often in O.T.: see esp. Jer. 10:3, 15). But more is meant here, not idolatry as a formal worship, but a life not guided by belief in the true God and so practically godless. Its vanity consists in its essential unreality and want of correspondence to the truth of things, its inability to fulfil the promises which it suggests, and its universal unproductiveness. Compare the whole passage Eph. 4:17-24.

patroparadovtou, inherited] The position of the word is at first sight peculiar, but it is quite in accordance with good Greek usage, which often places an adjective without any predicative force after a substantive preceded by an article and by an adjective or (still oftener) a participle. On this usage see Moulton in Winer p. 166, n. 3. With the doubtful exception of Eph. 2:11, this is the only example in the true text of the N.T., though the Western and Syrian texts of 1 Cor. 10:3, 4 and Gal. 1:4 have it.

patroparavdoto", G4261, is a not uncommon word in late Greek for anything that is literally or figuratively inherited. It has not unnaturally been thought to point to Jewish converts, since wherever else a paravdosi", G4142, is spoken of disparagingly in the N.T. a Jewish tradition is meant. But hereditary custom was as strong among heathen as among Jews (cf. the passages cited by Gataker on M. Aur. iv.46), and St Peter is not here challenging the authority of the heathen ajnastrofhv, G419, but rather pointing out one of the sources of its tremendous retaining power. The yoke which had to be broken, and which for these Asiatic Christians had been broken, was not merely that of personal inclination and indulgence, but that which was built up and sanctioned by the accumulated instincts and habits of past centuries of ancestors.

The heathen ajnastrofhv, G419, therefore is consistently treated as a slavery out of which they had been redeemed. Apoc. 14:3, 4, to which we shall shortly come, is a partial parallel. Corresponding to this heathen bondage is the Jewish bondage of which St Paul says Gal. 3:13 (cf. 4:5) Cristo;" hJma'" ejxhgovrasen ejk th'" katavra" tou' novmou, genovmeno" uJpe;r hJmw'n katavra.

19. ajlla; timivw/ ai{mati wJ" ajmnou' ajmwvmou kai; ajspivlou Cristou', with precious blood, (even the blood) of Christ, as a lamb without blemish and without spot] The absence of the article and the order of words together make the main construction clear. St Peter does not speak of “the precious blood of Christ,” as though the phrase or idea were familiar, but he says “with precious blood, as of &c.” It is less clear whether wJ" ajmnou'...ajspivlou is in direct connexion, almost apposition, with Cristou', or depends separately on ai{mati, Cristou' coming independently after the words “with precious blood, blood as of a lamb without blemish or spot, even the blood of Christ.” The order at first suggests the latter: but the order in 1 Pet. 3:7 (wJ" ajsqenestevrw/ skeuvei tw'/ gunaikeivw/) suggests, or at least sanctions, the former, and it is certainly difficult to detach ai{mati from timivw/ in supplying it before wJ", G6055, and without such detachment the preciousness would seem to depend on wJ" ajmnou' k.t.l. The sense then appears to be “with precious blood, even the blood of Christ, as a lamb &c.” The reservation of Cristou' for the end was apparently necessitated by the words which follow in 1 Pet. 1:20, 21; it was as Messiah that He was foreknown and at length manifested.

timivw/ ai{mati] The phrase may have been indirectly suggested by the O.T. Ps. 72:14 has “And precious shall their blood be in his sight,” where however the LXX. goes astray through a wrong Hebrew reading; but Symmachus (writing later than St Peter) has kai; tivmion e[stai to; ai|ma aujtw'n ejnwvpion aujtou': cf. Ps. 116:15 “Precious (tivmio", G5508, LXX.) in the sight of Jehovah is the death of his saints.” As regards the meaning there can be no direct antithesis to fqartoi'"; St Peter would naturally avoid using a[fqarto", G915, with such a word as ai|ma, G135, (contrast 1 Pet. 1:23). Ai|ma would naturally be called tivmion as representing the life or soul violently taken away, such life or soul (yuchv, G6034) being more precious than any possession (Matt. 16:26 || Mark 8:37 tiv dwvsei (doi') a[nqrwpo" ajntavllagma t. yuch'" aujtou'; compare Eur. Alc. 301 yuch'" ga;r oujdevn ejsti timiwvteron). But this ai|ma, G135, had an unique preciousness of its own. We shall come at the end of the verse to the doctrinal bearings of the phrase.

wJ" ajmnou' ajmwvmou kai; ajspivlou] The use of wJ", G6055, excludes a distinct naming of Christ as the Lamb: it simply compares Him to a lamb. So in John 1:14 dovxan wJ" monogenou'" para; patrov", “a glory as of an only begotten from a father.” But as He was elsewhere to St John oJ monogenh;" uiJo;" tou' qeou' (John 3:16, 18; 1 John 4:9), so here also an ascription to Him of the title given by John the Baptist, and partially repeated in the Apocalypse, may lie behind. We will first consider the separate words.

a[mwmo", G320, as a biblical word has a curious history. Mw'mo" is an old Greek word for “blame” (cf. Schmidt, Synonymik, iii. p. 458), from which comes mwmavomai, G3699, (-evomai) “to blame,” and thence ajmwvmhto", G318, “unblamed” or “unblamable” or (as we say) “blameless.” [Amwmo", derived directly from mw'mo", G3700, existed also by the side of ajmwvmhto", G318, as a rare poetic word (also Herod. ii.177 and an epitaph quoted in Steph. Thes. Gr. Ling. (ed. Hase) sub voce). The LXX. translators, having to express the Hebrew µWm, H4583, a blemish, apparently caught at the sound of the Greek mw'mo", G3700, and employed it for their purpose. The senses of the two words were really quite different, but they had enough in common to allow them to be confounded. This having once been done, it was a still easier step to choose a[mwmo", G320, as the usual rendering of µymiT;, H9459, where it clearly means “unblemished,” this use being probably helped by the double min each of the two Hebrew words. Accordingly the Apocrypha, the N.T., and other books which presuppose the LXX. (e.g. Philo de Animal. Sacr. 2), use mw'mo", G3700, or a[mwmo", G320, in the entirely unclassical sense of “blemish,” “unblemished.” (Curiously enough, this usage reacted on ajmwvmhto", G318, which came at last to be sometimes used in the same sense.)

[Aspilo" is classical, though late and not common. It means, without a spivlo", G5070, i.e. a spot or stain.

In this allusion to the blood of an unblemished and unspotted lamb, what had St Peter in mind? Chiefly, I think, and perhaps solely the paschal lamb. The reference is obscured by the difference of the words used from those of the LXX. which however is easily accounted for. Exod. 12:5 speaks of provbaton tevleion, going on to say that it was to be taken ajpo; tw'n ajrnw'n (B: ajmnw'n A and most MSS.) kai; t. ejrivfwn. No one can suppose that provbaton, G4585, could be used by St Peter here: ajmnov", G303, would naturally be substituted even if his text did not contain it in the same verse. Tevleion stands for µymiT;, H9459, which elsewhere is always represented by a[mwmo", G320, where the sense is ceremonially “unblemished” (and in the later books even where the meaning is morally “unblemished”), this exceptional case being the first in order. Many MSS. actually insert a[mwmon, G319, in Exod. 12:5 by the side of tevleion, doubtless as a duplicate rendering. St Peter however probably meant his two adjectives taken together to be equivalent to the one comprehensive µymiT;, expressing the double integrity of freedom from defect and freedom from defilement. This explanation will justify the application of ajspivlou to ajmnou', which is further justified by the reference to Cristou'. We shall presently come to other considerations as to the reference to the Paschal Lamb.

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