From:  Over 50 Interpreters Explain First Peter                             Return to Home 

By Roland H. Worth, Jr.  © 2017



List of All Sources Quoted At End of File






CHAPTER 1:13-25




1:13                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     Therefore gird up your minds and fix your hopes calmly and unfalteringly upon the boon that is soon to be yours, at the re-appearing of Jesus Christ.

WEB:              Therefore, prepare your minds for action, be sober and set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ--

Young’s:         Wherefore having girded up the loins of your mind, being sober, hope perfectly upon the grace that is being brought to you in the revelation of Jesus Christ,

Conte (RC):    For this reason, gird the waist of your

mind, be sober, and hope perfectly in the grace that

is offered to you in the revelation of Jesus Christ.


1:13                 Wherefore.  As the things revealed had engaged the attention of prophets, apostles, and angels.  [14]

                        Or:  “Wherefore,” that is, in view of the deliverance from distresses and the heavenly inheritance which will be theirs when Christ appears “girding up the loins of your mind.”   [7]

                        Other alternatives:  “Wherefore:  the exhortation is thus made immediately dependent on the previous statement of grace.  The duty is born of the privilege.  The “wherefore,” however, points back to the idea which called forth the ascription of praise with which the introduction opened, and not merely to the thought of the necessity of trial (de Wette), the grandeur of the grace (Calvin), the destination of the salvation from of old for these very readers (CEc.), or anything else which comes in only in the train of the leading idea.  The connection, therefore, is not of the indeterminate form, “Seeing this salvation was designed for you, and is so studied even by angels, be not ye unregardful of it” (so substantially Alford, etc.).  It is far more pointed than that, and amounts to this,—“God, then, by so marvelous a provision of His mercy, having begotten you unto a living hope, see that you make that hope your own, and live wholly up to it.”  [51]             

                        Gird up [prepare, NASB].  Be awake, attentive, and steadfast in the faith and practice of the gospel.  [14]

                        A figure drawn from the custom of girding the loins when about to start on a journey. So the Christian must prepare himself as on a journey.  [22]

The act of tucking up the loose Eastern tunic in preparation for traveling or running, for work or conflict, or for any kind of exertion (cf. Israel’s preparation for the flight from Egypt, Exodus 12:11; Elijah’s for running before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel, 1 Kings 18:46; and David’s for the battle, Psalms 18:32, 39), is the natural figure of a certain mental preparedness.  There is an evident fitness in applying the figure to men in the pilgrim state described in 1 Peter 1:1 and 1 Peter 2:11, and it is possible that Christ’s own injunction (Luke 12:35) may have given form to Peter’s phrase.  The tense indicates that the attitude of mind here in view must first be taken up definitely and once for all before the kind of hopefulness which is charged on these sojourners can be made good.  [51]            

                        the loins of your mind.  Prepare to pursue them with vigor, constancy, and perseverance, and to perform the various duties which they lay you under an indispensable obligation steadily to practice.  The loins of the mind is a figurative expression for the faculties of the soul, the understanding, memory, will, and affections, which the apostle signifies must be gathered in and girded, as it were, about the soul by the girdle of truth, so as to be in a state fit for continual and unwearied exertion in running the Christian race, fighting the good fight of faith, and working out our salvation with fear and trembling.  [47]

Martin Luther:  Here Peter speaks of a spiritual girding of the mind, just as one girds his sword to the loins of his body.  This girding has Christ also enforced, Luke 12[:35], where He says, “Let your loins be girt about.”  In some places the Scriptures speak of the loins with reference to bodily lust; but here St. Peter speaks of the loins of the spirit.  [21] 

                        What is it to gird up the loins of our minds?  It is surely to put out of the way anything which may hinder us in our race or in our conflict.  If we find that lawful things, pursuits, amusements, tastes—otherwise innocent—hinder us, we are to put these things away, to tie them up so that they be no impediment.  [41]

                        be sober [sober-minded, ESV].  Lit., being sober.  Primarily, in a physical sense, as opposed to excess in drink, but passing into the general sense of self-control and equanimity.  [2]

                        Christians among heathen must be self-restrained, like sober men among drunkards.  [24]

                        One interpretation:  Avoid unjustifiable excesses produced by your spiritual enthusiasm:  It may also have respect to the fact that the love of Christ revealed in the Gospel is calculated to inflame the utmost enthusiasm which would carry those under its influence beyond all bounds, and degenerate into fanaticism if it was not tempered by overmindedness.  [41]

                        Another interpretation:  Avoid allowing the injustice of the world to stir you up to wrongful attitudes or actions:  In the New Testament [the word is found] only in 1 Thessalonians (twice), 2 Timothy 4:5, “Be sober in all things”), and 1 Peter 4:7, 8; “refrain from undue excitement” (cf. 4:7).  Those who are steadfast under persecution may be excited to a bitter, restless, unbridled anger towards their persecutors.  Alike trials, delay, and the glorious hope of deliverance might cause restless excitement.  Another explanation is, “refrain from immoderate self-indulgence” (cf. verse 14).  But the word does not seem to be used in this way, either in this Epistle or in the rest of the N.T.  [45] 

                        and hope to the end.  Never depart from this mind-frame and pattern of behavior.  It is one designed both for “today” and however many “tomorrows” there may turn out to be.  [rw]
and hope to the end for the grace [rest your hope fully upon the grace, NJKJV].  Literally, hope perfectly, or, thoroughly, or, with completeness.  “Indeed this hope,” says Leighton, “is perfect in continuance, it is a hope unto the end, because it is perfect in its nature.”  The chief thought, however, is that the hope should not be half-hearted, dispirited.  St. Peter brings us back to what he began with, that ours is a living hope.  The exhortation is exactly of the same nature as that which pervades the Epistle to the Hebrews (see, for instance, Hebrews 3:6, 3:14, 6:11), and for the same reason—i.e., that spiritual sloth, combined with fear of man, was beginning to turn these Jewish Christians back to dead works. “Hope on,” in these passages, is tantamount to “remain Christians.”  [46]

Mistranslated by the A.V., “Hope to the end for the grace.”  Another view connects “perfectly” with the preceding word, “Be perfectly sober.”  The R.V., like the Greek, may mean either (1) “Cherish a confident expectation that you will receive the grace,” &c.; or (2) “Let the grace, &c., be above all else, the assured ground of your hopes, i.e., the circumstance which encourages you to hope.”  The former is simpler; but the latter is also quite consistent with the general tone of the Epistle, which treats the second coming, the revelation of Jesus Christ, as an assured fact, which renders deliverance from present trouble certain.  [45]

                        for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.  Their salvation at the day of judgment.  [14]

                        Not “which is to be brought,” as if the object of hope were remote, and wholly of the future; but “which is a-bringing,” already on the wing, and bearing ever nearer.  [51]

                        The grace here is rather the gift, the gift of immortality of body as well as of soul; it is the “inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away,” of verse 4.  [41]

                        at the revelation of Jesus Christ.  Not at death, but at the Second Advent.  [41]

 In depth:  The gradual “revealing” of Jesus both prophetically and literally [10].  Jesus Christ was revealed in the first promise that was made to man (Genesis 3:15).  He was also exhibited in the sacrifices which Abel offered (Hebrews 11:4 and 12:24).  In successive ages he was made known in clearer prophecies (Genesis 22:18 and Isaiah 53:4, 5, 11), and typified by various ordinances of the Jewish ritual (compare Exodus 12:5 with 1 Pet. i. 19).  In process of time he was personally  “manifested in human flesh,”  and showed himself to be the Son of God by most irrefragable proofs (Acts 2:22, Romans 1:4).  In the preaching of his Gospel he was yet more fully revealed.  The glory of God as shinning in his face is most transcendently displayed (2 Corinthians 4:6); still however  we see  him as yet only through a glass darkly” (1 Corinthians 13:12).  But in the last day he will appear in all his majesty and glory (Matthew 25:31):  he will  be revealed from heaven, with his mighty angels in flaming fire” (2 Thessalonians 1:7, 8).  His enemies, no less than his friends, will then see him to be  King of kings, and Lord of lords.” 



1:14                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     And, since you delight in obedience, do not shape your lives by the cravings which used to dominate you in the time of your ignorance,

WEB:              as children of obedience, not conforming yourselves according to your former lusts as in your ignorance,

Young’s:         as obedient children, not fashioning yourselves to the former desires in your ignorance,

Conte (RC):    Be like sons of obedience, not

conforming to the desires of your former ignorance,


1:14                 As obedient children.  The divisions between God's children and the children of this world turns on obedience to God.  [22]

                        The Christian is represented as related to the motive principle of his life as a child to a parent.  [2]

                        The phrase is more or less a Hebraism, like “children of wrath,” Ephesians 2:3, or the more closely parallel “children of disobedience” in Ephesians 5:6.  The “cursed children,” literally, children of a curse, of 2 Peter 2:14, furnishes another example of the Hebrew feeling which looks on the relation of sonship as a parable symbolizing the inheritance of character or status.  [38]

                        Literally, as children of obedience—children, i.e., in the sense of relationship, not of age.  The “as” means “in keeping with your character of,” just as we say in common English, “Do so like obedient children.”  [46]

                        There are three, and only three, motives for obedience: [Self-]Interest; Fear; Love.  There is the obedience of the hireling; of the slave; of the child.  God will not be served by mercenaries nor by slaves.  Who then will serve Him?  The Apostle answers, children.  This word resumes the whole subject: absolute dependence upon God, holy respect, tender love.  It reminds us of the motives we have for obedience. It removes whatever of servility or [self-]interest might mingle with Christian obedience.  [49]

                        not fashioning yourselves.  That is, your conduct and character.  [34] 

                         Not forming or modeling your life.  The idea is, that they were to have some model or example, in accordance with which they were to frame their lives, but that they were not to make their own former principles and conduct the model.  He is to be governed by new laws, to aim at new objects, and to mould his life in accordance with new principles.  [31]

according to the former lusts.  There is no denying what we once were or our weaknesses that we (happily?) indulged; the past we can never change.  All we can change is the future.  [rw]

The word used for ‘lusts’ covers not only sensual passions, but all those unregulated desires which are summarily comprehended under ‘the lust of the eye,’ as well as ‘the lust of the flesh’ (1 John 2:16).  [51]

in your ignorance.  Their unconverted state.  [14]

Before you became acquainted with the truth in Christ.  [34]


                        In depth:  the argument that the wording shows that the epistle was written to Gentiles is at least partially balanced—in his judgment, overcome—by the fact that it also fits many Jews of the time as well [46].  The same assumption is made here which we shall find again below in 1 Peter 2:9, and still more in 1 Peter 4:3, that the recipients of this Letter had lived in ignorance and in vice up to a certain point of their lives.  And it is contended, with much plausibility, that both accusations show the recipients of the letter to be of Gentile and not of Jewish origin.

It is true that lusts of the flesh are not usually laid to the charge of the Jews, as they are of the Gentiles.  (See, for instance, 1 Thessalonians 4:5; Ephesians 4:17.)  It is also true that the ignorance with which the Jews are charged (for instance, Acts 3:17; Romans 10:3; 1 Timothy 1:13) has quite a different tendency from this.

But it may be answered that such details are of little weight in comparison with the direct evidence of the first verse, and the indirect evidence of the whole tone of the Letter; also that, putting out of sight expressions of Paul’s which have nothing to do with Peter, “ignorance” is surely not an unnatural word to represent the contrast between the state of unregenerate Jews and the same persons when they have attained to knowledge higher than that of prophets or of angels; that even Jews were men of flesh and blood, and therefore not exempt from the temptations of the flesh, from which mere legalism was quite insufficient to protect them (see Romans 7:8, “sin through the commandment wrought in me every lust”); that in Hebrews 5:2, 9:7, Jewish people are supposed to have need of a high priest to bear with and atone for their “ignorance” and “ignorances;” that the same writer contemplates the possibility of “many” of his Hebrews being “defiled” through fleshly sin (Hebrews 12:15-16), and deems it necessary to urge strongly the sanctions of marriage (Hebrews 13:4). 



1:15                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     but--in imitation of the holy One who has called you--you also must be holy in all your habits of life.

WEB:              but just as he who called you is holy, you yourselves also be holy in all of your behavior;

Young’s:         but according as He who did call you is holy, ye also, become holy in all behaviour,

Conte (RC):    but in accord with him who has called

you: the Holy One. And in every behavior, you

yourself must be holy,


1:15                 But as he which hath called you is holy.  The Greek has a force which the English but imperfectly represents.  More literally we might say after “the pattern of the Holy One who called you.”  [38]

                        R.V. margin, “like the Holy One which called you.”  There is no practical difference; in either case the point of the clause is the duty of imitating the Divine holiness.  [45]

                        so be ye holy.  The root idea of holiness is that of “separation,” of dedication, particularly to the character belonging to God Himself.  [7]

                        The word holy means that which is God’s own, and which belongs to Him alone, or as we render it in Dutch (geweiht), consecrated. . . . Holiness is not that which consists in the estate of monks, priests, and nuns:  the wearing of the tonsure and cowl; it a spiritual word meaning that there is an inward holiness in the spirit before God.  – Martin Luther [21] 

                        The usual equivalent in the LXX of the Hebrew qadosh (so, for instance, in the following quotation [in verse 16]), the term used for things and persons withdrawn from common use, and consecrated to the service of Jehovah.  Thus qadosh meant “belonging to God,” “Divine,” and came to be used to describe Jehovah’s nature as God.  Hence it came to imply the moral character which God Himself possessed, and which should be imitated by persons consecrated to His service.  Similarly, hagios in classical Greek meant “devoted to the gods and their service,” and came to mean “pious, moral.”  In the N.T. it often retains its original sense of “set apart for the worship or service of God”; so, for instance, in Acts 21:28, the Temple is called the “holy place,” and so, Jude 3, the members of the church are called the “saints,” literally the holy; so too the Divine Spirit is called the Holy Spirit.  But it naturally implies moral character, and this is often its chief sense, so here; cf. James 3:17.  [45]      

                        in all manner of conversation [conduct, NKJV].  Better, in every form of conduct.  The word “conversation,” once used in its true meaning (conversari = living, moving to and fro, with others), has during the last hundred and fifty years settled down almost irrecoverably into a synonym for “talking.”  Swift is, I believe, the first writer in whom the later meaning takes the place of the earlier.  In Cowper’s poem “Conversation” it is used without even a reminiscence of the fuller significance of the word.  [38]

                        The clause means, “In the different concerns of life, at home, in business, in your pleasures, in social and political affairs, act as becomes the called of God.”  [45]



1:16                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     Because it stands written, "You are to be holy, because I am holy."

WEB:              because it is written, "You shall be holy; for I am holy."

Young’s:         because it hath been written, 'Become ye holy, because I am holy;'

Conte (RC):    for it is written: “You shall be holy,

for I am Holy.”


1:16                 Because it is written.  It was a habit of St. Peter to clench [=establish, vindicate, prove] his words in this way.  From the sacred writings he recognized no appeal:  compare 1 Peter 1:24; 2:6; 3:5, 10; 4:8, 17; 5:5; Acts 1:20; 2:17, 26; 3:22-24; 10:43 compare 2 Peter 3:2.  [24]

Be ye holy; for I am holy.  The words quoted occur several times in Leviticus (Leviticus 11:44; Leviticus 19:2; Leviticus 20:26).  The latter half of the quotation shows that the Law was intended to produce something much deeper than mere ceremonial holiness.  The Christian must live as the Jew was meant to live, a consecrated life.  [24]


In depth:  How and why “holiness” became a natural attribute to describe God [37].   ἅγιος, like the Hebrew קָדו ̇שׁ, meant originally “set apart,” distinct from ordinary things.  It was at first applied to persons (e.g. Exodus 22:31), places (Exodus 3:5, etc.) or things (1 Kings 7:51) which were “set apart” for religious use, regarded as being connected with the presence or service of God.  It is not easy to decide how the same word came also to be applied to God Himself.

Some would suggest that it was because God was regarded as “set apart,” separated from what was common or unclean.  Others think that as things set apart for God were required to be without stain or blemish, the word ἅγιος applied to them acquired the meaning of “pure,” “unblemished,” and, as applied to persons, moral purity as well as physical would gradually be understood as being necessary.  In this sense (the idea of “set apart” being lost sight of) the word might be applied to God.

And in proportion as the conception of God became elevated and purified so the idea of God’s Holiness would acquire a more [intense] purity (e.g. Isaiah 6:3).  But in either case, when once the word ἅγιος had come to be applied to God, the idea of what “holiness” must mean in God would react upon all the lower applications of the word to men.  Those who claimed a special relationship to God would be understood as requiring to have a moral character conformable to that of God.

Generally in the N.T. the title ἅγιος describes the Christian’s privilege, as one whom God has “set apart” for Himself, rather than the Christian’s character.  But such consecration to God demands a corresponding character, and here St Peter emphasizes that demand by quoting the standard laid down in the “Law of Holiness,” “Ye shall be holy, for I am holy,” Leviticus 11:44-45; Leviticus 19:2.  In the former passage the words are connected with things which were to be regarded as clean or unclean, but in the latter they are connected with various moral laws.



1:17                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     And if you address as your Father Him who judges impartially in accordance with each man's actions, then spend in fear the time of your stay here on earth,

WEB:              If you call on him as Father, who without respect of persons judges according to each man's work, pass the time of your living as foreigners here in reverent fear:

Young’s:         and if on the Father ye do call, who without acceptance of persons is judging according to the work of each, in fear the time of your sojourn pass ye,

Conte (RC):    And if you invoke as Father him

who, without showing favoritism to persons, judges

according to each one’s work, then act in fear during

the time of your sojourning here.


1:17                 And if ye call on the Father.  More correctly, Rev., If ye call on him as Father; the point being that God is to be invoked, not only as Father, but as Judge.  [2]

                        In Him the offices of Father and Judge are inseparably united; the Father never lost sight of in the Judge, and the Judge never lost sight of in the Father.  [41]           

                        if.  It is implied that the hypothesis is correct, that they did call on God as Father.  Therefore since they claimed to be God’s children, let them respect His authority.  Cf. Jeremiah 3:19, “I (God) said, Ye shall call me My father; and shall not turn away from following me.”  [45] 

                        ye call.  With an expectation of being heard; or, as you desire or expect audience and acceptance at God’s hands.  [47]

                        who without respect of persons.  A [Greek] word only found in this passage and in comments on it.  The same idea is expressed in Peter’s speech at the house of Cornelius the centurion (Acts 10:34), “Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter-of-persons,” and in Romans 2:11, “There is no respect-of-persons with God,” with which Ephesians 6:9 and Colossians 3:25 are almost identical.  In the ancient East, judges were often little influenced by the merits of the cases they tried, but decided in favor of the suitor who was the most influential, or offered the larger bribe.  The absence of such respect-of-persons was one of the most striking differences between God and the ordinary human judge.  Persecuted Christians might be over-awed by the authority and pomp of those who ordered them to recant; being themselves often poor and obscure, or even slaves, they might think themselves excused for disloyalty to Christ by their own inferiority; but these differences of human station counted for nothing with God.  Again, Christians of wealth and rank had to choose between these and loyalty to Christ; they are reminded that neither social nor church standing would shield them from the Divine displeasure.  [45] 

                        Among men it is but too common for parents to feel an undue bias in concerns relating to their children.  But God has established one mode of procedure for all.  His written law is the standard to which every thing shall be referred.  [10]

                        We note the prominence of this thought, derived originally from the impression by our Lord’s words and acts (Matthew 22:16), as presenting a coincidence (1) with the Apostle’s own words in Acts 10:34; and (2) as in other instances, with the teaching of St James (James 2:1-4).  [38]      

                        judgeth.  God is judging men according to their works every day: compare Psalms 7:11; John 12:31.  There is a sense in which men shall be judged according to their works at the last day:  see Matthew 16:27; Romans 2:6; Romans 14:12; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Revelation 2:23, 20:12, 22:12.  Of this continuous judgment we have present experience, of the last judgment Holy Scripture gives us a dim outline.  Sometimes God is spoken of as the judge, sometimes Christ; e.g. Matthew 16:27; Acts 10:42; Acts 17:31; 2 Corinthians 5:10; compare John 5:22-27. The phrase “according to their works” is probably derived from [the] OT. (compare Psalms 62:12), but that very passage shows that it does not exclude God's mercy through Christ: compare Acts 10:42.  What is meant is what Peter says here, and James insists on in his Epistle—God is no respecter of persons; a mere profession of faith will assure no man of salvation.  The very idea that it would, becomes impossible, as soon as we combine what is said in Holy Scripture about the continuous present judgment with the other passages in which a future judgment is spoken of.  A man who has been untrue to his Christian profession knows that he is being judged; he knows also, however, that he may again pass “out of death into life,” and so not “come into judgment,” John 5:24.  [24]  

                        Father . . . who . . . judgeth.  There is no antithesis between God’s sovereignty [= kingship?] and His fatherhood.  The fatherhood includes the sovereignty and much more.  In ancient times the authority of a father over his children was, if anything, more absolute than that of a sovereign over his subjects; the father could put his children to death or sell them for slaves.  The obedience and deference due to a father and his “judgments” would affect life much more constantly than those exacted by the state.  [45]

                        It seems improbable that, except as abstract theory, such considerations would much affect the vast bulk of first century individuals.  The concept of the father centered on the Father as fulfilling parental responsibilities and exercising loving control over his offspring (Matthew 7:9-11).  [rw]

                        according to every man’s work.  The principles from which our actions flowed, the manner in which they were performed, and the end for which they were done, will be minutely investigated, and a sentence passed upon us according to their real quality.  There will be no difference in this respect between Jew or Gentile, rich or poor; nor will any regard be shown to men’s professions.  [10]

                        I do not think it is extravagant attention to niceties to ask you to notice that the Apostle does not say “works,” but “work;” as if all the separate actions were gathered into a great whole, as indeed they are, because they are all the products of one mind and character.  The trend and drift, so to speak, of our life, rather than its isolated actions and the underlying motives, in their solemn totality and unity, these are the materials of this Divine judgment.  [27]

                        pass the time of your sojourning here in fear.  That fear of God which would lead them to obey Him, and that fear of sin which would lead them to avoid it. [14]

                        sojourning.  The word παροικια, here rendered sojourning, properly signifies the stay which travelers make in a place while finishing some business.  The term, therefore, is applied with great propriety to the abode of the children of God in the present world, as it signifies that this earth is not their home, and that they are to remain in it only a short time.  See Hebrews 11:13.  [47]

                        fear.  Not in slavish fear, but in reverential awe of the greatness and unspeakable majesty of Him Who allows us to call Him Father.  [41]

                        The “fear” which is urged upon them, is not the terror of slaves, but the reverential awe of sons, even the true fear of the Lord which is “the beginning of wisdom” (Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 1:7).  Compare also Luke 12:4-5.  [38]


                        In depth:  Relationship of verse 18 to verse 17 [51].  Most interpreters regard the 18th verse as simply supplementary to the 17th, and as pointing the injunction to a walk in godly fear more strongly.  Some (e.g. Hofmann), on the other hand, take the thought of 1 Peter 1:17 to be complete within itself.  In that case the statement of the price of redemption would be introductory to the subsequent exhortation to brotherly love.  Others (e.g. Schott) think that the 18th verse is intended to explain the connection between the two parts of the 17th, the price, which it has cost God to bring in a redemption that has opened so glorious a future, making the judgment which must precede that future all the more solemn, and serving, therefore, to exhibit all the more seriously the need of a walk in godly fear.



1:18                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     knowing, as you do, that it was not with a ransom of perishable wealth, such as silver or gold, that you were set free from your frivolous habits of life which had been handed down to you from your forefathers,

WEB:              knowing that you were redeemed, not with corruptible things, with silver or gold, from the useless way of life handed down from your fathers,

Young’s:         having known that, not with corruptible things -- silver or gold -- were ye redeemed from your foolish behaviour delivered by fathers,

Conte (RC):    For you know that it was not with

corruptible gold or silver that you were redeemed

away from your useless behavior in the traditions

of your fathers,


1:18                 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed [ransomed, ESV] with corruptible things, as silver and gold.  In this instance, it will be noted, stress is laid on the fact that the liberation effected by the ransom is not from the penalty of an evil life, but from the evil life itself.  [ - ]

                        Ye were ransomed.  The word is used of deliverance from slavery or from exile, e.g. of the deliverance of Israel from Egypt (Exodus 6:6; Exodus 15:13, etc.).   Paul in Titus 2:14 says that “Christ Jesus gave Himself on our behalf that he might redeem (λυτρώσηται) from all iniquity and purify unto himself a people for his own possession,” just as Israel were made God’s “peculiar people” by being “purchased and redeemed of old.”  So here Peter regards the old heathen life of his readers as a state of slavery from which they have been ransomed.  But besides the mere idea of rescue or deliverance, the word λυτροῦσθαι suggests also deliverance by the payment of a ransom by another, and the ransom given for man’s deliverance from the slavery of sin was the life-blood of Christ Himself; cf. Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:45, “The Son of Man came . . . to give His life a ransom for many”; cf. 1 Timothy 2:6.  So here the blood, as representing the surrendered life, is the ransom; cf. Revelation 1:5, “to him that loosed us (λύσαντι, not λούσαντι = washed, as T.R.) from our sins at the price of his own blood.” We must not, however, over-press the metaphor and ask to whom the ransom was paid.  Most of the early Fathers regarded the ransom as paid to the devil as being the slave-owner.  Such a thought is abhorrent to us, yet the other suggested alternative that the price was paid to the Father would imply that the Father’s pardon required to be bought, whereas “God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son,” and in one passage (Acts 20:28) the Father Himself seems to be described as the ransomer or purchaser. Cf. Revelation 14:3-4.  [37]                     

                        The “ransom” concept in the Old Testament:  In the Old Testament, the term and its cognates are used in a variety of cases, e.g. of recovering something which has been devoted by substituting an equivalent in its place (Leviticus 27:27), of buying back something that has been sold (Leviticus 25:25), of ransoming souls by a money payment to the Lord when Israel was numbered (Exodus 30:12-16), of redeeming the first-born by a price paid to Aaron (Numbers 3:44-51).  The terms apply in the New Testament to ransoming from the bondage of evil (Titus 2:14), as well as from the penalty of evil.  Here the ransom price is stated first negatively as not ‘corruptible’ (or ‘perishable’) things, not even the most valuable of these, such as silver or gold.  The form of the words here used for silver and gold is that used generally, though not invariably, for the coined metals, pieces of money; hence some think that the writer has in mind here the sacred money paid for the redemption of the first-born or as the expiation-money for those who were enrolled by being numbered.  But the contrast with the “precious blood” makes such a limitation inept.  [51]

from your vain conversation [aimless conduct, NKJV].  Because unprofitable to, and insufficient for, righteousness and salvation, conversation [= conduct], viz. in your Judaism, wherein you were so much addicted to uncommanded rites and ceremonies, as to have little respect for God’s law.  [28]

In 1611, when the English Bible was translated, conversation, from the Latin conversatio, meant not only our words, but moral character, deportment and living. In the last two hundred years that word has been spoliated of about nine-tenths of its original meaning.  Consequently it is no longer an adequate translation of the original.  [48]

received by tradition from your fathers.  And so not only by their example and practice, but by their doctrine and precepts, Matthew 15:3, &c.; Mark 7:7, &c.  See likewise Galatians 1:14.  [28] 

                        Some suppose that Peter has the Gentiles in his mind when he uses these words; but it is very unlikely, for “tradition” is almost always applied to what was handed down among the Jews.  The words of Peter in the council held at Jerusalem sufficiently declare to what he alludes:  “a yoke . . .  which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear” (Acts 15:10).  [41]    

                        from your fathers.  Either your ancestors, as Ezekiel 20:18, or doctors and instructors, who are sometimes called fathers, 1 Corinthians 4:15.  [28]

                        The ancient religion had a strength—not merely vis inertiae—which often baffled both Jewish and Christian missionaries:  “to subvert a custom delivered to us from ancestors the heathen say is not reasonable” (Clem. Ac. Protr. x.).  This power of the dead hand is exemplified in the pains taken by the Stoics and New Pythagoreans to conserve the popular religion and its myths by allegorical interpretation.  [36] 

                        [Their lifestyle] is further described by a term meaning “ancestral,” “hereditary,” or “traditional,” which indicates how mighty a spell it must have wielded over them.  It was a life “fortified and almost consecrated to their hearts by the venerableness of age and ancestral authority” (Lillie), and thereby entrenched the more strongly in its vanity.  Both these terms suit Gentile life.  The “vain” expresses what a life is which has no relation to God.  It rules the other phrase “ancestral,” or “handed down from your fathers,” and makes it descriptive of a Gentile life rather than a Jewish.  What could set them free from the despotism of a life, poor as the life might be, which not only ran the course of natural inclination, but laid upon them those strong bonds of birth, respect for the past, relationship, habit, example?  Nothing but a new moral power, Peter reminds them, which it cost something incalculably more precious than silver or gold to bring in, namely, the sinless life of the Messiah.  [51]



1:19                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     but with the precious blood of Christ--as of an unblemished and spotless lamb.

WEB:              but with precious blood, as of a faultless and pure lamb, the blood of Christ;

Young’s:         but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and unspotted -- Christ's --

Conte (RC):    but it was with the precious blood of

Christ, an immaculate and undefiled lamb,


1:19                 But with the precious blood of Christ.  [Precious:]  Of great value, in contrast with the “corruptible things” [verse 18] that for this purpose had no worth.  [39]

                        of Christ.  Notice that it is not “Jesus,” but “Christ,” i.e., the Messiah.  No price short of the “blood,” i.e., the death, of the Messiah could free the Jews from the thraldom of their “vain conversation.”  (Compare 1 Peter 1:2.)  [46]  

                        as of a lamb.  Peculiarly appropriate from Peter.  See John 1:35-42.  The reference is to a sacrificial lamb.  [2]

The blood of an innocent and patiently suffering Lamb, as the Messiah is described to be in Isaiah 53:7.  [9]

Does Peter have the daily Temple sacrifice in mind?:  Christ being perfect, and without spot or sin, was typified by the lamb offered daily for their sins; and that lamb being bought with the half shekel every one gave for the buying of the daily sacrifice (Exodus 30:12, 15, 16, and which was therefore styled [in Greek] “the money of expiations,” and was sent up to Jerusalem from every city of Judea, and all the provinces where the Jews lived, in silver and gold).  The apostle may here allude to this, when he saith, “Ye were not redeemed with silver and gold, by which the daily sacrifice was bought, which made atonement for your souls, but with the precious blood of Jesus, who shed his blood for your redemption from that death which by your sins ye had contracted.”   [4]

Does Peter have in mind the Passover lamb?  The lamb particularly in Peter’s view here, is variously identified, as e.g. with the Paschal Lamb (Wiesinger, Hofmann, Alford, etc.), with the lamb of Isaiah 53 (Schott, Huther, etc.), or with the general idea signified by the various lambs of the Old Testament service and realized in Christ.  The dispute is of small importance, as it is not probable that these different lambs would be sharply distinguished in the consciousness of the Israelite.  The fact that Peter is dealing here with the question of a ransom from a certain bondage makes it reasonable to suppose him to have before his eye some lamb that occupied a well-understood place in God’s service under the old economy, and points, therefore, to the Paschal Lamb, which was associated with the release from the bondage of Egypt, and was also the only animal that could be used for the service to which it was dedicated.  On the other hand, it may be urged in favor of the lamb of Isaiah 53:7, that Peter elsewhere seems to have that section of prophecy in view, that the Old Testament itself (in the Greek Version) employs a different term for the Paschal Lamb in capital sections, and that the New employs statedly another word than the one used by Peter for the Paschal Lamb.  In either case the lamb is introduced here not with immediate reference to its sacrificial character, but in respect of those ethical qualities which are expressed by the adjectives.  The expiatory or sacrificial value of Christ’s death is no doubt at the basis of the statement.  [51]

                        without blemish.  Representing the Old-Testament phrase for absence of physical defect (Exodus 12:5; Leviticus 22:20.  Compare Hebrew 9:14).  [2]

                        The reference here is to the Paschal lamb whose blood was sprinkled upon the door posts as a testimony of obedience to the command of Jehovah, and thus a protection from the death which fell upon the Egyptians (Exodus 12.5).  [1]

                        and without spot.  From the world.  [15]       

Compare 1 Timothy 6:14; James 1:27; 2 Peter 3:14.  In each case in a moral sense.  [2]

Without any other deformity.  The lamb might have no defect, but yet might have some spot; and it was to be perfect, Exodus 12:5, which implied its having neither the one nor the other.  Christ was such a Lamb, perfect in holiness, and free from all sin, John 8:29, 46; Hebrews 7:26; 1 Peter 2:22.  [28]



1:20                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     He was pre-destined indeed to this work, even before the creation of the world, but has been plainly manifested in these last days for the sake of you who, through

WEB:              who was foreknown indeed before the foundation of the world, but was revealed at the end of times for your sake

Young’s:         foreknown, indeed, before the foundation of the world, and manifested in the last times because of you,

Conte (RC):    foreknown, certainly, before the

foundation of the world, and made manifest in

these latter times for your sake.


1:20                 Who verily was foreordained [foreknown, NASB].  As a Savior. [14]

                        “Foreknown”—i.e., by God.  So in Authorized [Version/KJV] in Romans 8:29, 11:2; but here “foreordained.”  [44]

                        See John 1:29.  Christ was the center of God's plans of salvation from the beginning.  [22]

before the foundation of the world.  Before it was created.  [rw]

The phrase, “before the foundation of the world,” used by Paul (Ephesians 1:4), and by Christ Himself in reference to His own pre-incarnate life (John 17:24), and occurring also repeatedly in the form “from the foundation of the world” (Matthew 13:35; Matthew 25:34; Luke 11:50; Hebrews 4:3; Hebrews 9:26; Revelation 13:8; Revelation 17:8), carries us above all time into an eternity out of which time and history issued, and in which God’s purpose was formed.  In this pre-mundane eternity Christ was contemplated and recognized as that which He was shown to be in time.  [51]

but was manifest.  Not only by his incarnation, 1 Timothy 3:16, but by the preaching of the gospel.  [28]

His manifestation “in these last times” implies a previous unmanifested existence, as in 1 Timothy 3:6; Hebrews 9:26.  [16]

in these last times for you.  The Gospel dispensation, called the last times, as we have often seen, because never to be succeeded by any other.  [18]

The Greek for “these last times” is literally the end of the times.  The Apostle’s language was determined probably in part by the prophecy of Joel which he cites in Acts 2:17, in part by his belief that with the manifestation of Christ in the flesh, the last period of God’s dealings with mankind, the duration of which it was not given to him to measure, had actually begun.  [38]

Or:  In that period, the end of the Jewish age and near the end of the temple and of the Jewish nation.  [22]

Or:  Last, in comparison of the times of the Old Testament; the same as the fulness of time, Galatians 4:4.  [28]

                        for you.  That you, with other believers, might partake of salvation by him.  The fruit of Christ’s redemption reacheth all ages, but much more abundantly the times after his coming in the flesh.  The sum of the argument is, Christ was ordained from eternity, promised to the fathers, but manifested to you:  your privilege therefore being greater than theirs, Matthew 13:17; Hebrews 11:39-40, you should be the more holy.  [28]



1:21                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     are faithful to God, who raised Him from among the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are resting upon God.

WEB:              who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead, and gave him glory; so that your faith and hope might be in God.

Young’s:         who through him do believe in God, who did raise out of the dead, and glory to him did give, so that your faith and hope may be in God.

Conte (RC):    Through him, you have been faithful

to God, who raised him up from the dead and gave

him glory, so that your faith and hope would be

in God.


1:21                 Who by him do believe in God.  This is supposed to refer to the Gentiles, who never knew the true God till they heard the preaching of the Gospel:  the Jews had known him long before, but the Gentiles had every thing to learn when the first preachers of the Gospel arrived amongst them.  [18]

                        More in depth:  The word pistos translated “believer” is used in the New Testament in two senses:  (1)  believer” or “believing,” e.g. John 20:27, “Be not faithless (apistos), but believing (pistos).”  It is generally taken in this sense here.  The readers of the Epistle had been led to believe in God through what they had heard of Christ, and through their experience of his salvation.  If this is the true interpretation, Peter must have chiefly had Gentile converts in his mind, because their conversion to Christianity also led them to believe in the true God.  (2)  Pistos also means “faithful,” as in 4:19, “a faithful Creator.”  It was through the grace of Christ that they were loyal to God.  An alternative reading, pisteuontas, supported by some good authorities, could only mean “believers.”  [45]

                        Alternative translations and their implications [46]:  The sentence is joined on to the foregoing verse just as in 1 Peter 1:5, “Who are kept.”  The “who” might be rendered by “and you;” and the clause adds a kind of proof of the foregoing statement, drawn from the result of God’s manifestation of Christ to them.  “This Christian doctrine is no innovation, nothing to lead you away from the God of our fathers.  That same God had had the scheme in His thoughts from the beginning, and it is in that same God that you have been led thereby to believe.” 

There is a better supported and more forcible reading, “Who through Him are faithful towards God,” which combines the ideas of believing, i.e., putting the whole trust in God, and of loyal inward observance of Him.  And if any one asks whether it be possible to say that Hebrew men only came to believe in God through the revelation of Christ, we must answer by pointing to the whole scope of the Epistle to the Hebrews, and especially to Hebrews 3:12, where it is not faith in Christ, but faith in a living God, which they are warned not to abandon: and to Hebrews 6:1, where faith toward God is part of the “word of the beginning of Christ.”

that raised him up from the dead and gave him glory.  These clauses give the historical facts which had led them, “through Christ,” to a living faith in God. Though the thought is common with St. Paul (e.g., Romans 1:2-4), St. Peter was familiar with it years before St. Paul’s conversion.  See this in Acts 2:23-24; and Acts 2:33-36 of the same chapter will show what he means by “gave Him glory”—not to be confined to the Ascension, though that is the prominent thought; the glory was already partly given in the Resurrection.  Compare John 17:1, where there is the same reciprocal glorification of the Father and the Son, as here.  [46]

that raised him up.  Elsewhere in the N.T. only in the Epistles of Paul, with whom it is a favorite phrase, used as an epithet with or of “God” (cf. Romans 8:11, &c.).  [45]

and gave him glory.   “To render praise or homage to God” is a common Biblical sense of “to give glory.”  Here it may refer to God’s expression of approval towards Christ, “honored him.”  The evidence of such honor would lie in his exaltation to “the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:3); cf. Acts 7:55, where Stephen sees “the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.”  Or this exaltation may be the “glory” which is given.  [45]

The consistency of this with Peter’s own earliest teaching (Acts 2:36) is apparent.  Its consistency with Paul’s view of the “name which is above every name” as a gift from God (Philippians 2:9), and with Christ’s own prayer for a glorification at His Father’s hand, puts it out of the question to suppose (as some argue) that Peter’s view of the Person of his Lord was less exalted than Paul’s, or that he thought of any other subordination of Christ to God than the voluntary subordination, compatible with equality, which the Son assumed, and for which He received reward from the Father, as the apostles consistently teach, and as Christ Himself taught them when He spoke of the Father as giving Him all judgment (John 5:22), giving His work and His words (John 17:4, 8), His glory and even His life (John 17:22; John 5:26).  [51]

that your faith and hope might be in God.  “Might be:” or perhaps “are.”  One object or result of God’s dealings was to stimulate faith and hope.  [45]

An inexact rendering which obscures the connection.  Literally it is, so that your faith and hope is in (or, toward) God; that is to say, “Your faith and hope does not stop short in Jesus.”  Hammond seems, to be quite right in paraphrasing, “Who by believing on Him (Jesus Christ) are far from departing from the God of Israel, but do, indeed, the more firmly believe and depend on Him as that omnipotent God who hath raised Christ from the dead.”  The co-equal Son is less than the Father (John 14:28); and we should terribly mistake the meaning of the gospel were we content to rest in the love of Christ Himself without accepting His revelation of the Father.  This is the “living hope” of 1 Peter 1:3, brought about by Christ’s resurrection.  Some of the German commentators translate, “So that your faith may be also hope in God;” which has nothing ungrammatical in it, but does not suit the context so well.  [46]

1:22                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     Now that, through your obedience to the truth, you have purified your souls for cherishing sincere brotherly love, you must love another heartily and fervently.

WEB:              Seeing you have purified your souls in your obedience to the truth through the Spirit in sincere brotherly affection, love one another from the heart fervently:

Young’s:         Your souls having purified in the obedience of the truth through the Spirit to brotherly love unfeigned, out of a pure heart one another love ye earnestly,

Conte (RC):    So chastise your souls with the

obedience of charity, in fraternal love, and love one

another from a simple heart, attentively.


1:22                 Seeing ye have purified.  The Septuagint translation of the Old Testament technical term for the purification of the people and priests (Joshua 3:5; 1 Chronicles 15:12; 1 Samuel 16:5).  Also, of the separation from wine and strong drink by the Nazarite (Numbers 6:2-6). In this ceremonial sense, John 11:55; Acts 21:24, 26; 24:18.  In the moral sense, as here, James 4:8; 1 John 3:3.  [2]

                        It refers not only to the forgiveness of sins but to the pure life that should follow.  [22]

                        This process might be termed “sanctifying” in view of its consecrating persons and things to God, or “purifying” in view of its separating them from common objects.  Here, as applied to the soul, it extends beyond mere external separation from heathen worship and habits to the abandonment of false principles and beliefs, and evil desires and passions.  [45]  

                        This process was begun when the truth concerning Christ was first accepted.  [7]

                        your souls.  i.e. yourselves; the whole person is implied, the soul being the principal part.  [28]

                        He is well aware that the desires of the flesh remain with us after baptism, even to the grave.  Therefore it is not enough that a person should refrain from works and remain pure outwardly, while he permits evil lusts to cleave to his heart, but must thereafter beware that the soul be pure, as well as whatever proceeds out of the heart, and that the soul be opposed to these wicked lusts and desires, and continually contend therewith, until it is free from their power.  [21]  

in obeying the truth.  Truth standing here for the sum and substance of the revelation of God in Christ.  [38]

“The truth” is not so much the definite rules laid down by Christ and his apostles as a comprehensive term embracing all the means by which the will of Christ is made known—his teaching and example, the influence of his character and work, and of his Spirit.  Cf. John 14:6, “I am . . . the truth.”  Submission to such an authority would involve complete separation from all that was unworthy in their former life.  [45]

                        through the Spirit.  A reference to the fact that their obedience had not been one of outward form alone, but had originated from the determination of their inner spirits to commit the whole person to the faithful service of God.  (This assumes spirit should not be capitalized:  Capitalization is always a translators’ decision based upon whether they consider the human or divine spirit to be the most likely subject.  [rw]

Or:  By the operation of the Spirit working faith in you.  [28]

Modern “critical” texts normally omit “through the Spirit.”  Hence the claim of commentators such as the following [rw]: “A.V., following inferior manuscripts, adds “through the Spirit” after “truth.”  [45]

unto unfeigned love.  The essence of practical Christianity.  [16]

Without hypocrisy or pretence.  [39]

The epithet “unfeigned,” in itself, would suggest that Peter was uneasy about the depth of their brotherly kindness.  And the brotherly kindness is here, as usual, attachment to other members of the Church, special point being added to the word here because of the notion of regeneration running through the whole passage.  (See 1 Peter 1:14.)  Is it not possible that some coolness had arisen between the Jewish and Gentile members of the Church, and that Peter finds it necessary to remind the former that they are truly brethren, sons of one Father, and that they ought not only unaffectedly to have done with all jealousy of the Gentile members, but to be far beyond that, loving one another “from the heart (the [KJV] word ‘pure’ is not part of the original text, and interrupts the run of the sentence) strenuously?”  [46]

love of the brethren.  In classical Greek, of the mutual affection of actual brothers and sisters; so Ptolemy II and his sister both received the title Philadelphus, on account of their devotion to one another.  The various cities named Philadelphia were so called because build by kings styled Philadelphus, or in honor of a brother or sister.  The idea of the Divine Fatherhood (verse 17) implied human brotherhood.  Hence philadelphia is used for the mutual affection between Christians by Paul (Romans 12:10; 1 Thessalonians 4:9); in Hebrews 13:1; here, cf. 3:8, and in 2 Peter 1:7. [45]

see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently.  The claim is easy enough to make and even some of the actions that go with it:  These can actually be produced by the mere fact that such behavior is expected of us.  What Peter is urging is that we do this because it is right in itself rather than because it meets the standards others tell us should be met.  [rw]  

                        Speculation as to why this admonition may have been especially needed:  One is a little surprised to find the Apostle putting this first, and emphasizing it.  As he was writing to Christian churches suffering persecution, it might have been supposed that mutual goodwill could have been taken for granted.  Evidently one cause of his anxiety was the ill-will of Christians to one another, which might go so far as to lead some to betray their brethren, and induce others to return to heathen life in order to spite Christians against whom they had grudges.  In our own days men sometimes leave one church for another from similar motives.  Mutual affection, on the other hand, would comfort the Christians in their trouble, and strengthen them to endure persecution.  Such affection should naturally spring out of the common faith, experience, and hope; but men often grudge the self-denial and self-sacrifice which “unfeigned love of the brethren” demands (cf. 4:8).  [45] 

                        fervently [earnestly, ESV, NET].  With the faculty of loving stretched to its full energy, and therefore earnest and constant.  [45]

                        The adverb is strictly “intensely” rather than “fervently.”  It is noticeable that the only other passage in which it meets us in the New Testament is in Acts 12:5, where it, or the cognate adjective, is used of the prayer offered by the Church for St Peter.  [38]



1:23                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     For you have been begotten again by God's ever-living and enduring word from a germ not of perishable, but of imperishable life.

WEB:              having been born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, through the word of God, which lives and remains forever.

Young’s:         being begotten again, not out of seed corruptible, but incorruptible, through a word of God -- living and remaining -- to the age;

Conte (RC):    For you have been born again, not

from corruptible seed, but from what is incorruptible,

from the Word of God, living and remaining for all



1:23                 Being born again.  This may refer either:  1. To the general exhortation to holiness, 1 Peter 1:14-15, and then the argument runs thus:  Ye are in your regeneration become the children of God, and therefore ought to walk holily as become his children.  Or:  2. To the more particular exhortation to brotherly love, 1 Peter 1:22:  q.d., You are by your regeneration become spiritual brethren, and therefore ought to live like brethren.  [28]

                        Better, having been begotten again, the verb being the same as that in 1 Peter 1:3.  The “corruptible seed” is that which is the cause of man’s natural birth, and the preposition which Peter uses exactly expresses this thought of an originating cause.  In the second clause, on the other hand, he uses the preposition which distinctly expresses instrumentality.  The “word of God” is that through which God, the author of the new life, calls that life into being.  [38]

                        not of corruptible seed.  Not as at first of mortal parents, born to die.  [14]

                        The word here translated “seed” occurs nowhere else in the New Testament.  It is taken in that sense by almost all commentators, and this seems to be favored by the qualifying adjective attached to it.  Neither is that a sense absolutely strange.  It is found, though with extreme rarity, both in the classics and elsewhere (2 Kings 19:29; 1Macc. 10:30).  The word, however, would mean naturally “sowing,” which sense (along with the secondary meanings of “seed-time” and “offspring”) it has in the Classics.  Here, therefore, it refers to the Divine act, described as a begetting, which is the point of origin for the new life.  [51]

                        but of incorruptible.  The Christian is redeemed from his old life by an incorruptible ransom; his new life springs from an incorruptible seed, and he is born into an incorruptible inheritance.  [45]

                        by the word of God.  We need not discuss whether “the word” means Christ, or the word of the gospel preached or written; or, again, the word that is heard in each man's conscience.  All forms of God's speech are summed up in Christ, who is the Truth:  compare Hebrews 1:2.  [ - ]

                        It is obvious that the word of God is more here than any written book, more than any oral teaching of the Gospel, however mighty that teaching might be in its effects.  If we cannot say that Peter uses the term logos with precisely the same significance as John (John 1:1, 14), it is yet clear that he thinks of it as a divine, eternal, creative power, working in and on the soul of man.  It was “the word of the Lord” which had thus come to the prophets of old, of which the Psalmist had spoken as “a lamp unto his feet,” and “a light unto his path” (Psalm 119:105).  Peter’s use of the term stands on the same level as that of the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews, who speaks of “the word of God” as “quick and powerful . . . a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12-13).  It is, i.e., nothing less than God manifested as speaking to the soul of man, a manifestation of which either the preached or the written word may be the instrument, but which may work independently of both, and is not to be identified with either.  [38]

which liveth and abideth for ever.  Communicating and nourishing life which will be eternal.  [14]


In depth:  Is it God Himself or His word that is attributed abiding, eternal existence in this verse?   A concise summary of the two views [31]:  This expression may either refer to God, as living forever, or to the word of God, as being forever true.  Critics are about equally divided in the interpretation. The Greek will bear either construction.  Most of the recent critics incline to the latter opinion--that it refers to the word of God, or to his doctrine.  So Rosenmuller, Doddridge, Bloomfield, Wolf, Macknight, Clarke.  It seems to me, however, that the more natural construction of the Greek is to refer it to God, as ever-living or enduring; and this interpretation agrees well with the connection.  The idea then is, that as God is ever-living, that which is produced directly by him in the human soul, by the instrumentality of truth, may be expected also to endure forever.  It will not be like the offspring of human parents, themselves mortal, liable to early and certain decay, but may be expected to be as enduring as its ever-living Creator. 

                        A more detailed explanation of the disagreement [51]:  It is not quite clear which of the two subjects, God or the Word, is qualified by the adjectives “living” and “abiding.”  The order in the Greek is peculiar, the noun “God’s” being thrust in between the two adjectives.

Most interpreters agree with the E.V. in taking the Word to be the subject described here as “living” and “abiding,” in favor of which it is strongly urged that the passage which follows from the Old Testament deals not with God’s own nature, but with that of His Word.  The peculiar order of the Greek is then explained as due to the quality “living” being thrown forward for the sake of emphasis.  On this view the thing most decidedly asserted is the life which inheres in the Word, and the subsequent citation from Isaiah would be introduced to express the contrast between the Word of God in this respect and the best of all natural things.

The arrangement of the terms points, however, more naturally to God as the subject described by the epithets, and in support of this, Daniel 6:26 is appealed to, where God is similarly described, and, indeed, according to one of the ancient Greek translators, in precisely the same terms.  Calvin, therefore, supported by the Vulgate, and followed by some good exegetes, prefers the view that these epithets “living” and “abiding” are given here to God Himself, with reference to His Word, as that in which “His own perpetuity is reflected as in a living mirror.”  In this case we should have the same kind of connection between God and His Word as we have also in Hebrews 2:12-13, where the conception of the former as having all things naked and opened to Him, and that of the latter as quick, powerful, and piercing, lie so near each other; and the following citation would have the more distinct design of affirming the Word to be partaker of the very life and perpetuity which inhere in God Himself.

In either case the quality of “abiding” is not a mere superaddition (as Huther, etc., make it), but rather so weighty an inference from the “living” that it alone is expounded in what follows.  For the dominant idea is still the kind of love which believers should exhibit toward each other, namely, persevering, lasting love, and the general intention of the closing verses is to show that while to the unregenerate all that is possible may be a love changeful and transient like the nature of which it is born, the regenerate are made capable of, and thereby pledged to, a love of the enduring quality of that new life which, like God Himself and God’s Word, lives and therefore abides.



1:24                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     "All mankind resemble the herbage, and all their beauty is like its flowers. The herbage dries up, and its flowers drop off;

WEB:              For, "All flesh is like grass, and all of man's glory like the flower in the grass. The grass withers, and its flower falls;

Young’s:         because all flesh is as grass, and all glory of man as flower of grass; wither did the grass, and the flower of it fell away,

Conte (RC):    For all flesh is like the grass and all

its glory is like the flower of the grass. The grass

withers and its flower falls away.


1:24                 For all flesh is as grass.  This quotation is an almost exact reproduction of the LXX of Isaiah 40:6b, 8, which, in its turn, is a sufficiently close and accurate rendering of the Hebrew.  The only variation worth noticing is the substitution by Peter of “the Lord” for the “our God” of the Greek and Hebrew.  In omitting verse 7 our Epistle probably follows the LXX, from which that verse has been accidentally dropped.  [45]

                        Context of the quote:  Once more St. Peter clenches his argument by the authority of Scripture. The quotation is taken from Isaiah 40:6, where the section of the book of Isaiah begins, in which the new life of the forgiven and restored nation is proclaimed.  [24]

                        Note on “all flesh:”  The phrase “all flesh” (which in the Old Testament is characteristic of certain books only, occurring, e.g., repeatedly in the Pentateuch and the second half (never in the first) of Isaiah, four times in Jeremiah, three times in Ezekiel, once in Zechariah) embraces man and all that is of man as he is by nature.  [51]

                        and all the glory of man [all its glory, ESV, NASB] as the flower of grass.  His learning, wisdom, wealth, power, dignity, authority, dominion.  [47]

                        The reading followed by the E. V., “the glory of man,” must yield to the better reading, “its glory.”  If the “flesh,” therefore, is compared to grass (a familiar biblical figure of transient human life, cf. Psalms 90:5-6; Psalms 103:15-16; Job 8:12; Job 14:2; Isaiah 37:27; Isaiah 1:12; James 1:10-11), and one to which the rapidity of growth and decay in Eastern climates gives additional force, the “glory” of the flesh, by which is meant its goodliest outcome, “the most splendid manifestations of man’s life,” is compared to the still more tender bloom that brightens on the flower only to fall off.  [51]

Love his politics or hate them, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was one of our greatest presidents, having seen us through a massive depression and a world war.  Yet today, 70 odd years after his death, how many remember him?  Or, from the same period, Churchill?  Or great generals like Eisenhower (later president) or Rommel (forced to commit suicide due to his opposition to Hitler)?  In regard to scientific and technological innovation we find the same thing.  We should be grateful for the talents that enable us to accomplish something even temporarily regarded as “great,” but we should never fall into the delusion that many will remember us beyond when our own generation dies away.  [rw]  

The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away.  The quotation from Isaiah (Isaiah 40:6, 8) is changed a little.  In Isaiah we read: “The grass withereth, the flower fadeth,” and here it is, “The grass hath withered and the flower fallen,” that is how faith must look upon the world and all its glory, as withered and fallen, with no more attraction for the heart which knows God. But those who are born again are linked with that which abideth for ever, the Word of the Lord, preached in that ever blessed Gospel [verse 25].  [23]   


                        In depth:  Context of the Isaiah quote and its relevance to Peter’s Gentile readers [46].  The citation is from Isaiah 40:6-8 and varies between the Hebrew and the LXX in the kind of way which shows that the writer was familiar with both.  But the passage is by no means quoted only to support the assertion, in itself ordinary enough, that the Word of the Lord abideth for ever.  It is always impossible to grasp the meaning of an Old Testament quotation in the mouth of a Hebrew without taking into account the context of the original.  Nothing is commoner than to omit purposely the very words which contain the whole point of the quotation.

Now these sentences in Isaiah stand in the forefront of the herald’s proclamation of the return of God to Sion, always interpreted of the establishment of the Messianic kingdom.  This proclamation of the Messianic kingdom comprises words which Peter has purposely omitted, and they contain the point of the quotation. 

The omitted words are, “the Spirit of the Lord bloweth upon it:  surely the people”—i.e., Israel—“is grass.”  Immediately before our quotation went the words, “the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together;” statements which so shocked the LXX translator that he entirely omitted [it] and changed the previous verse so as to make some difference between Jew and Gentile “the glory of the Lord shall be revealed.” i.e., to Israel, “and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”

The comment of Bishop Lowth on the original passage will well bring out what Peter means here:  “What is the import of [the proclamation]?  that the people, the flesh, is of a vain temporary nature; that all its glory fadeth, and is soon gone; but that the Word of God endureth for ever.  What is this but a plain opposition of the flesh to the Spirit; of the carnal Israel to the spiritual; of the temporary Mosaic economy to the eternal Christian dispensation?”

Here, then, Peter is quoting one of the greatest of Messianic prophecies; and his Hebrew readers would at once understand the Hebrew method of the quotation, and see that he was calling attention to the absolute equality of Jew and Gentile there proclaimed.  Generation of the corruptible seed, physical descent from Abraham, was “the glory of the flesh” (observe that according to the best text Peter does not follow the LXX, and insert “of man,” but follows the Hebrew, and says “all the glory thereof,” i.e., of the flesh).  On this “the Spirit of the Lord” had breathed (Psalms 104:30); and the merely fleshly glory had withered like grass.

But “the word of our God,” which, mark well, Peter purposely changes into “the Word of the Lord,” i.e., of Jesus Christ, incidentally showing his Hebrew readers that he believed Jesus Christ to be “our God”—this “abideth for ever.”  The engendering by this is imperishable, i.e., involves a privilege which is not, like that of the Jewish blood, transitory:  it will never become a matter of indifference whether we have been engendered with this, as is the case now (Galatians 6:15) with regard to the [Jewish] “corruptible seed;” no further revelation will ever level up the unregenerate to be the equals of the regenerate.

And in this regeneration “all flesh” share alike.  The teaching of the Baptist, who fulfilled this prophecy, is here again apparent.  (See Matthew 3:9.)



1:25                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     But the word of the Lord remains for ever." And that means the Message which has been proclaimed among you in the Good News.

WEB:              but the Lord's word endures forever." This is the word of Good News which was preached to you.

Young’s:         and the saying of the Lord doth remain -- to the age; and this is the saying that was proclaimed good news to you.

Conte (RC):    But the Word of the Lord endures

for eternity. And this is the Word that has been

evangelized to you.


1:25                 But the word of the Lord.  In Isaiah [--the source of the quotation--] “the word of the Lord” is the prophetic announcement of God’s purposes and of their moral and spiritual demands, especially as regards the restoration of Israel.  [45]

                        Any significance in the term translated “word?”  The term used for the “Word” in 1 Peter 1:23 (Logos) gives place now to a different term (rhema), which is supposed to express only the word as uttered (while the other denotes the word whether uttered or unuttered), and to give a more concrete view of it.  How far the distinction can be carried out, however, is doubtful.  And it is more than doubtful whether in the present instance the change is due to aught else than the fact that the Greek translation which Peter seems to follow uses the latter word in the passage cited.  [51]

endureth for ever.  Is unmoved, fixed, permanent.  Amidst all the revolutions on earth, the fading glories of natural objects, and the wasting strength of man, his truth remains unaffected. Its beauty never fades; its power is never enfeebled.  [31] 

The Word of God abides:— I. Through the different periods of human history.— II. Through the manifold assaults of human opposition.— III. Through the various stages of human progress.  This is very important to observe; for we not seldom hear the taunting words of reproach, “The Bible did very well for those who lived in our father’s days, and in the old time before them; but we want something more advanced in these days.”  Those who speak thus forget that while there is much progress in outward things, the real deep sorrows and wants of the heart of man are the same they always were; and therefore the same consolation and mercy which were needed in old times are needed now.  [49]

and this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.  Because it comes from “the Lord” it retains an authoritativeness long after each of us passes away.  We die; it doesn’t.  Hence the gospel message remains true for each and every generation.  [rw]

Arguing that the point is that the gospel message was just as much Divine revelation as the prophetic one in Old Testament days:  The sentence is not parallel, as it is taken by many, to Romans 10:5-13, where the nearness or accessibility of the Word is in view.  What is affirmed is not that this Word, of which things so glorious are said, is yet so near them as to be at their hand in the Gospel, but that the good tidings which were brought to these Asiatic Christians by Paul and his comrades were nothing else than that Word of the Lord of which the prophet spake, and nothing less enduring than the Voice of the desert had proclaimed that Word to be.  So Peter identifies the revelation in the form of the ancient word of promise with the revelation in the form of the recent word of preaching; which he says, also, was not merely to them, or for their benefit, but unto them, addressed to them personally and borne in among them. 

He gives implicit witness at the same time to the fact that what he himself had now to teach them was nothing but the same grace which Paul and others had proclaimed.  Hence the past tense, “was preached,” as referring to their first acquaintance with the Gospel, when others than he who wrote to them had been the means of conveying to them the Lord’s enduring Word, and thus creating in them a life capable of a steadfast and undecaying love. [51]


                        In depth:  Differences between the original passage in Isaiah 40 and Peter’s use of the text [51].  Having the Gospel immediately in view, Peter substitutes “the word of the Lord” here for “the word of our God,” which is the phrase in Isaiah 40:8, in both the Hebrew text and the Greek.

Other departures from the Old Testament passage, as we have it, also appear, some of which are of minor interest, others of a remarkable kind.  Not only is the qualifying “as” introduced before the “grass,” the stronger term “glory” given for “goodliness,” the phrase “flower of grass” substituted for “flower of the field,” and “fadeth” displaced by “fell off,” but the important section of the Hebrew text which ascribes the decadence of grass and flower to the Spirit of the Lord blowing upon them (1 Peter 1:7) is entirely omitted.  In these particulars, Peter follows the text of the ancient Greek translation.

On the other hand, he departs from the Greek text, and returns to the Hebrew, in adopting “all its glory” instead of “all the glory of man.  It appears, therefore, that Peter makes a very free quotation, or rather, that he does not bring in this passage as a formal quotation sustaining his statement by an appeal to Scripture, but simply expresses in Old Testament words which come easily to his lips a reason for the incorruptibility which he attributes to the new life, namely, that it is due to the action of a power which endures like God Himself.  This is supported by the fact that the passage is introduced not by the ordinary conjunction “for,” but by a different term, used also in 1 Peter 1:16, meaning rather “because.”









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