From:  Over 50 Interpreters Explain First Peter                             Return to Home 

By Roland H. Worth, Jr.  © 2018



List of All Sources Quoted At End of File






CHAPTER 2:13-25




2:13                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     Submit, for the Lord's sake, to every authority set up by man, whether it be to the Emperor as supreme ruler,

WEB:              Therefore subject yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether to the king, as supreme;

Young’s:         Be subject, then, to every human creation, because of the Lord, whether to a king, as the highest,

Conte (RC):    Therefore, be subject to every human

creature because of God, whether it is to the king

as preeminent,


2:13                 Submit yourselves.  But lest they should think themselves so ennobled by faith as to be raised above subordination to human authorities, he tells them to submit themselves for the sake of Christ, who desires you to be subject, and who once was subject to earthly rulers Himself, though having all things subject to Him, and whose honor is at stake in you as His earthly representatives.  Compare Romans 13:5, “Be subject for conscience‘ sake.”  [20]

to every ordinance of man.  All human laws which are not in opposition to the law of God.  [14]

The word translated “ordinance” is the one commonly signifying “creation” or “creature,” and is not used in the sense in which it is employed here elsewhere in the New Testament.  As something that man has created or established, a human institution, it is here properly rendered “ordinance.”  [16]

Macknight translates the clause, Be subject to every human creation of magistrates; observing that “the abstract word creation is put for the concrete, the person created; just as governments and powers are put for persons exercising government and power.  The phrase, human creation of magistrates, was formed by St. Peter with a view to condemn the principles of the zealots, who maintained that obedience was due to no magistrates but to those who were appointed by God, as the Jewish kings had been.”  [47]

for the Lord's sake.  For Christ’s sake or because it is His will.  [16]

We cannot truly submit to Christ, unless we yield obedience to all his laws--to those which relate to our conduct in civil life, as well as those which are given to regulate the inmost workings of our souls towards God.  [10]

                        Because civil government is His institution for affording to all men the inestimable benefits of law and order, without which human society could not exist; or it may be for the sake of the Lord as the Head of the Church, as the Church and its Head would be brought into disrepute if it was supposed to be on the side of lawlessness.  [41]

                        Or:  An utilitarian rationale?  Because anything else will give unbelievers an excuse to speak ill of the Lord and His people.  They are to submit, but not because of the original source from which the authority flows, but because of the practical consequences of not submitting.  It must be done “for the Lord’s” (i.e., Jesus Christ’s) “sake,” i.e., in order not to bring discredit upon His teaching, and persecution upon His Church.  This difference of treatment, in the midst of so much resemblance, shows that at the date of Peter’s letter there was much more immediate cause for laying stress on political subordination.  Paul, writing to the Roman Church, urges submission to Claudius, because the Roman Jews (among whom the Christians were reckoned) were often in trouble and expelled from the city of Rome (Acts 18:2); Peter, writing in all probability from the Roman Church, urges submission to Nero and the provincial governors because “ignorant and foolish men” were beginning to misrepresent the Christian Church as a kind of Internationalist or Socialist conspiracy.  [46]

                        whether it be to the king, as supreme.  The emperor, styled king by Greek writers.  [2]

                        It has been commonly supposed that there is reference here to the Roman emperor, who might be called king, because in him the supreme power resided.  The common title of the Roman sovereign was, as used by the Greek writers, ᾀυτοκράτωρ autokratōr, and among the Romans themselves, “imperator,” (emperor;) but the title king was also given to the sovereign.  John 19:15, “we have no king but Cesar.”  Acts 17:7, “and these all do contrary to the decrees of Cesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus.”  Peter undoubtedly had particular reference to the Roman emperors, but he uses a general term, which would be applicable to all in whom the supreme power resided, and the injunction here would require submission to such authority, by whatever name it might be called.  The meaning is, that we are to be subject to that authority whether exercised by the sovereign in person, or by those who are appointed by him.  [31]

                        supreme.  The distinction between “the king as supreme” and “governors sent by him” implies that “if the king command one thing, and the subordinate magistrate another, we ought rather to obey the superior” [Augustine in Grotius].  [20]


                        In depth:  God prescribes obedience to government and not any particular governmental form [10].  It is called, in my text, “an ordinance of man:  and so it is, as far as related to the particular form of government established in any particular kingdom.  In some countries absolute monarchy is established:  in our own, a limited monarchy.  In some, there are republics; in others, the power is vested in an aristocracy.  In fixing the precise mode in which the affairs of any nation shall be administered, the agency of man has been altogether employed:  God having never interposed by an authoritative mandate from heaven, except in the case of the Jewish people. 

            The history of our own nation sufficiently informs us, that the changes which take place in human governments are the result of human deliberation, or of human force.  Yet, in its original appointment, civil government proceeds from God himself.  He has ordained, that man shall not be left in the state of the brute liberty to follow the bent of his own inclinations, without any regard to the welfare of others:  but that power shall be vested in some for the good of the community; and that every one in shall be responsible to that power for his own conduct, as far as the welfare of the community is concerned.



2:14                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     or to provincial Governors as sent by him for the punishment of evil-doers and the encouragement of those who do what is right.

WEB:              or to governors, as sent by him for vengeance on evildoers and for praise to those who do well.

Young’s:         whether to governors, as to those sent through him, for punishment, indeed, of evil-doers, and a praise of those doing good;

Conte (RC):    or to leaders as having been sent

from him for vindication over evildoers, it is truly

for the praise of what is good.


2:14                 Or unto governors.  Magistrates, in the different provinces of the empire.  “From this we learn that it is the duty of Christians, residing in foreign and even in infidel countries, to obey the laws of those countries in all things not sinful, without considering whether the religion of the magistrate and of the state be true or false.”  [47]

Subordinate officers, appointed by the chief magistrate, over provinces.  Perhaps Roman proconsuls are here particularly intended.  [31]

                        As a matter of form, some governors were appointed by the Roman Senate, but these appointments were controlled by the emperor; and practically all the governors were his representatives.  [45]

                        The “Governors” include the Pro-consuls or Pro-praetors of Roman provinces, and all officials such as the town-clerk of Ephesus, the Asiarchs, and other municipal authorities.  (Acts 19:31, 35, 38.)  [38]

                        as unto them that are sent by him.  The tense of the Greek participle indicates that obedience was to be paid to those who, from time to time, were the local representatives of the central supreme authority.  The identity of thought with Romans 13:3-4, will be noticed as another interesting coincidence in the teaching of the two Apostles.  Both alike recognize that even an imperfect and corrupt government works, on the whole, for a greater good than lawless anarchy.  Both therefore are against revolutionary attempts to destroy an established order.  [38]

for the punishment of evildoers.  No tyranny ever has been so unprincipled as that some appearance of equity was not maintained in it.  Although bad kings often oppress the good, yet that is scarcely ever done by public authority (and it is of what is done by public authority that Peter speaks), save under the mask of right. Tyranny harasses many, but anarchy overwhelms the whole state [Horneius].  [20]

Ulpian, the celebrated Roman lawyer, who flourished two hundred years after Christ, thus describes the power of the governors of the Roman provinces:  “It is the duty of a good and vigilant president to see to it that his province be peaceable and quiet. And that he ought to make diligent search after sacrilegious persons, robbers, man-stealers, and thieves, and to punish everyone according to their guilt.”  Again, “They who govern whole provinces, have the power of sending to the mines.”  And again, “The presidents of provinces have the highest authority, next to the emperor.”  [31]

and for the praise of them that do well.  A minimalist interpretation of the point: The praise they obtain consists in the protection and care accorded to them by the government.  There is no mention here of any extra praise or recompense.  [6]

                        Or:  Praise here stands opposed to punishment, and means commendation, applause, reward.  That is, it is a part of their business to reward in a suitable manner those who are upright and virtuous as citizens.  This would be by protecting their persons and property; by defending their rights, and, perhaps, by admitting those to share the honors and emoluments of office who showed that they were worthy to be trusted.  It is as important a part of the functions of magistracy to protect the innocent, as it is to punish the wicked.   Praise here stands opposed to punishment, and means commendation, applause, reward.  That is, it is a part of their business to reward in a suitable manner those who are upright and virtuous as citizens.  This would be by protecting their persons and property; by defending their rights, and, perhaps, by admitting those to share the honors and emoluments of office who showed that they were worthy to be trusted.  It is as important a part of the functions of magistracy to protect the innocent, as it is to punish the wicked.  [31]


                        In depth:  Limitations on the duty of obedience to government [51].  Peter says nothing of the questions which may be forced upon the Christian when the idea of the office is perverted, or when the governor sinks the office in his person and personal ends.  Neither does he suggest that the duty of submission extends the length of abstention from the use of ordinary civil rights in withstanding the unjust action of rulers.  Paul made the most of his rights as a Roman citizen, and carried his appeal from governor to Caesar (Acts 16:37; 22:25; 25:11).  He speaks, nevertheless, of the heathen magistrate as the “minister of God,” and of the duty of being “subject not only for wrath, but also for conscience’ sake” (Romans 13:5).  The rule that injures is to be obeyed until it can be amended.  The rule that offends morality and conscience is not to be obeyed; yet its penalties are to be submitted to.



2:15                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     For it is God's will that by doing what is right you should thus silence the ignorant talk of foolish persons.

WEB:              For this is the will of God, that by well-doing you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish men:

Young’s:         because, so is the will of God, doing good, to put to silence the ignorance of the foolish men;

Conte (RC):    For such is the will of God, that by

doing good you may bring about the silence of

imprudent and ignorant men,


2:15                 For so is the will of God.  The intent, purpose, instruction of God.  They can win by example, an argument that may be hopeless to win by logic or reasoning.  Outsiders don’t want to believe that Christianity can make you better people.  Prove it to them by being better people!  [rw] 

that with well doing.  By positive behavior in your own life and by beneficial, helpful behavior to others--showing that Christianity has changed you for the better.  [rw]

ye may put to silence.  [In Greek] a very graphic word, meaning to muzzle or to gag.  [2]

A good life best confounds the slanderer.  [14]

The mention of this “putting to silence” in the same breath with the authorities, perhaps implies that they would vindicate the innocence of the Christians.  Pilate publicly declared that Christ had no wrong (Mark 15:14); Gallio refused to listen to the charges which the Jews brought against Paul (Acts 18:12-16); and, on the occasion of his last visit to Jerusalem, the Roman authorities protected him from the violence of the Jews (Acts 22, 23).  [45]  

the ignorance.  In classical Greek it is an ignorance arising from not coming into contact with the person or thing to be known.  It occurs only once again in the New Testament, 1 Corinthians 15:34.  Here it signifies not want of acquaintance, but of understanding; a state of ignorance.  [2]

The word “ignorance,” used elsewhere in the New Testament only in 1 Corinthians 15:34, implies something more than a mere ignorance of facts.  One might almost describe it as a settled incapacity for knowing and judging rightly.  [38]

Habitual and general [ignorance], as Wiesinger says, “having ever its mouth open rather than its eyes.”  [39]           

                        These are slanderers referred to in verse 12; their slanders were not deliberate lies, but, being ignorant and foolish, they were eager to believe the worst of those whom they disliked. [45]

                        of foolish men.   The “foolish men” are the accusers and slanderers of 1 Peter 2:12 rather than the official authorities of 1 Peter 2:13-14.  [38]

                        The best answer to calumny, suspicion and ignorance is uprightness of conduct and life.  No argument is so unanswerable as good works.  [40]   



2:16                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     Be free men, and yet do not make your freedom an excuse for base conduct, but be God's bondservants.

WEB:              as free, and not using your freedom for a cloak of wickedness, but as bondservants of God.

Young’s:         as free, and not having the freedom as the cloak of the evil, but as servants of God;

Conte (RC):    in an open manner, and not as if

cloaking malice with liberty, but like servants

of God.


2:16                 As free [Live as people who are free, English Standard Version].  Free from the service of Satan and from slavish free of God or men.  [14]

                        Or:  That is, free from the law of Moses and the tradition of the elders, because not under the old covenant.  Peter cautioned them not to use their freedom as license, since they were under the obligation of the  higher law of loyalty to their master.  [1]         

                        The consciousness of spiritual freedom pertaining to the Christian may easily be perverted into worldly and carnal licentiousness, as was shown by the revolt of the peasantry at the time of the Reformation.  Against this danger the apostle gives warning. “Because,” to use the words of Dr Luther, “he who is spiritually free, is at the same time the servant of every man; for he is, and continues to be, most of all, the servant of God.”  [6]

                        Scholarly aside:  The English text gives the impression that the word “free” is closely connected with the preceding verse.  In the Greek, however, the adjective is in the nominative and cannot be in apposition with the preceding participle for “well-doing” which is in the accusative case.  We are led therefore to connect it with what follows.  “As being free . . . honur all men . . .  The fact that men had been made free with the freedom which Christ had given (compare John 8:32, 36, Galatians 5:1) brought with it an obligation to use the freedom rightly. [38]

                        And:  “As free, &c.,” has been variously connected with verses 12, 15, and 17.  In any case, it really qualifies the general ideas of the paragraph.  The Christian is to obey authorities, not in any servile spirit, but as a free man, whose freedom consists in loyal service to God, and therefore includes obedience to those who are doing God’s work.  [45]

                        and not using your liberty.  While the Jews prided themselves upon their liberty, and gloried that they never were in bondage to any man, John 8:33, Peter would prompt them not to rest in the mere barren assertion of freedom, however fascinating that claim might be, but to beware of turning it to an evil account and betraying the cause they fain would serve.  Rather should they rejoice in being the servants of God, and being in that service that they should not use their liberty to the prejudice of their duty.  “To serve God,” says Augustine, “is the highest liberty.”  And Milton well satirizes those, “That brawl for freedom in their senseless mood, / And still revolt when truth would set them free; / License they mean when they cry liberty.”  [40]      

                        for a cloke.  Cloke [in Greek] only here in New Testament.  Literally, a veil.  The idea is that of using Christian freedom as a mask for ungodly license.  Paul uses the kindred verb (Rom. iv. 7) of the covering of sins.  On the sentiment, compare Galatians 5:13.  [2]

                        Luther:  “This is said especially for us, who have heard of Christian freedom, that we may not go on and abuse this freedom, making a cloak of it; that is to say, under the name and show of Christian freedom do all that we lust after.”  [50]

                        The uncommon word here used means any kind of covering, but not in the sense of a garment, so that we must not insist on the metaphor of the word “cloke.”  The same Greek word is used in Exodus 26:14 to express the second covering of the tabernacle there mentioned, i.e., the uppermost, outermost covering.  Grimm quotes a fragment of the comic poet Menander, “Wealth is a covering of many a bad thing;” this helps us to see that what Peter means is not ordinary hypocrisy.  The man does not profess to be better than he is, but loudly asserts that he is not a slave.  Men admire such freedom of speech, and excuse his vices just because of their openness.  [46]

                        of maliciousness.  Baseness[.]  The word just given answers better to the comprehensive meaning of the Greek word than the more specific “maliciousness.”  In Galatians 5:13, 2 Peter 2:19 we find indications that the warning was but too much needed.  [38]

but as the servants of God.  Free, yet servants; bound to obey God, and therefore to obey those to whom he commands us to “submit’ ourselves.  [39]

Not free from all restraint; not at liberty to indulge in all things, but bound to serve God in the faithful obedience of his laws.  Thus bound to obey and serve him, they could not be at liberty to indulge in those things which would be in violation of his laws, and which would dishonor him.  [31]



2:17                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     Honour every one. Love the brotherhood, fear God, honour the Emperor.

WEB:              Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.

Young’s:         to all give ye honour; the brotherhood love ye; God fear ye; the king honour ye.

Conte (RC):    Honor everyone. Love brotherhood.

Fear God. Honor the king.


2:17                 Honour all men.  As being made in the image of God, bought by his Son, and designed for his kingdom.  [15]

                        Or:  That is, no more than that which is due them as men.  [16]

                        Peter had been taught of God “not to call any man common or unclean” (Acts 10:28).  The fact that there were in every man traces of the image of God after which he had been created, and infinite undeveloped capacities which might issue in the restoration of that image to its original brightness, was in itself a reason for treating all, even the vilest and most degraded, with some measure of respect.  It is obvious that the command is perfectly consistent with showing degrees of honor according to the variations in men’s character and position.  It would almost seem as if the Apostle chose the most terse and epigrammatic form for these great laws of conduct that their very brevity might impress them indelibly on the minds of his readers.  [38]

                        Honour.  The first “honor” [in this verse, rw] is in the Greek aorist imperative, implying, “In every case render promptly every man‘s due” [Alford].  The second is in the present tense, implying, Habitually and continually honor the king. Thus the first is the general precept; the three following are its three great divisions.  [20]

Love the brotherhood.  Christians, who are all equally children of God.  [14]

The whole fraternity of Christians, regarded as a band of brothers.  [31]

We are connected with them by a closer relationship. And so Peter did not omit this connection; but yet he reminds us, that though brethren are to be specially regarded, yet this ought not to prevent our love from being extended to the whole human race [as well].  [35]  

Fear God.  In such a manner shall lead you to obey Him. [14]

They are to fear God with the holy reverential awe of sons, with that fear which is “the beginning of wisdom” (Psalm 111:10, Proverbs 1:7). [38]

Live as in the very presence of God, with an holy awe, dreading in any way, either by thought, word, or deed, to grieve the love of God.  [50]

Honor the king.  But rather because they are the servants of God, they must, in perfect liberty, and not yielding to external forces, but because it is God’s will, prove their doing good by their subordination to the government.  The latter certainly does not demand anything else than showing the emperor the honor due him, just as they are to show every one the proper respect which he has a right to claim on account of his station and his prominence, and this is as little in conflict with the duty of brotherly love as it is with the duty of fearing God.  Here we catch an echo of the word of the Lord in Mark 12:17.  Conflicts such as the times of the persecution of the Christians called forth, are still entirely outside of the horizon of the Apostle.  [9]

They are not to fear man more than God, however great may be the authority with which he is invested.  Paul’s conduct before the high-priest, Felix, Festus and Agrippa (Acts 23-26.) may be noted as a practical illustration of Peter’s precept.  We may, perhaps, trace in the juxtaposition of the two precepts a reproduction of the teaching of Proverbs 24:21.  [38]

                        We honor the emperor, king, president, or governor, when we obey the laws which are administered by the authority of government.  [50]  



2:18                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     Household servants, be submissive to your masters, and show them the utmost respect--not only if they are kind and thoughtful, but also if they are unreasonable.

WEB:              Servants, be in subjection to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the wicked.

Young’s:         The domestics! be subjecting yourselves in all fear to the masters, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the cross;

Conte (RC):    Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and meek, but also to the unruly.


2:18                 Servants.  [Greek:]  Household servants.  So Revision, in margin.  Not a common term in the New Testament, occurring only in three other passages:  Luke 16:13; Acts 10:7; Romans 14:4.  Some suppose that Peter intended to cover by it freedmen and other dependants in the household, or that he uses it with a conciliatory purpose, as presenting the slave in closer relation with the family.  [2]

                        He does not address them as slaves, the word employed by Paul, but as “household servants,” a term which, in that day, included free men and women, even clerks and musicians and teachers and physicians; thus the passage applies to the attitude of all employees toward their employers and bears upon the vexed modern problems of labor and capital.  [7]

                        Now since the conduct of Christian servants or slaves would be likely to influence the opinions of their superiors respecting Christianity, it therefore became a matter of importance; and hence the injunctions of St. Peter and St. Paul.  [11] 

                        An implication of the ethnicity of the recipients of the Letter?  The word for word for servants is not the same as in other places where their duties are inculcated, as in the Epistles of Paul.  He invariably uses the word [for slave]:  here it is [the one for] household or domestic servants.  Bishop Wordsworth gives a reason why it should be so in this Epistle, because it is mainly intended for Jews, who were not to have their brethren as bond slaves, at least not to compel them to serve as such, according to Leviticus 25:40:  “But as an hired servant and as a sojourner he shall be with thee, and shall serve thee unto the year of jubilee.”  Peter is writing to Jewish Christians who would not regard their domestics of their own nation as slaves, as the heathen masters did theirs. [41]  

                        be subject to your masters.  This  subjection”  however, is like that previously suggested toward kings and governors:  it implies not only obedience but also loyalty; servants are not only to submit but to be faithful and to advance the interests of their masters.  [7]                   

with all fear.  Here fear does not mean terror, but deep anxiety lest in some respect service might fall short of a perfect fulfillment of each duty.  [1]

                        The “fear” is not of punishment, but denotes anxious fidelity and deference under all circumstances, the desire to avoid all offense.  [7]

                        not only to the good.  Kind.  [20]

and gentle.  “Reasonable,” “considerate.” [45]

but also to the forward [harsh, NKJV].  The unreasonable, the cruel, and the unjust.  [7]

The word rendered “froward” (σκολιοῖς skoliois) means properly “crooked, bent;” then perverse, wicked, unjust, peevish.  Anyone who is a servant or domestic is liable to be employed in the service of such a master; but while the relation continues, the servant should perform his duty with fidelity, whatever may be the character of the master.  Slaves are certainly liable to this; and even those who voluntarily engage as servants to others, cannot always be sure that they will have kind employers.  [31]


In depth:  The need for instruction to this category of believers due to their changed status in the eyes of God and fellow believers [38].  The counsels thus opening are carried on to the close of the chapter.  The fullness with which slaves are thus addressed, here and in Ephesians 6:5-8, Colossians 3:22, 1 Timothy 6:1-2, indicates the large proportion of converts that belonged to that class.  Nearly all the names in Romans 16 and many of those of other members of the Church are found in the Columbaria or Catacombs of Rome as belonging to slaves or freedmen.

The term for “servants,” here and in Luke 16:13, Acts 10:7, Romans 14:4, differs from the more common word as pointing specially to household servants, the “domestics” of a family.  It may have been chosen by Peter as including the wide class of libertini or freedmen and freedwomen who, though no longer in the status of slavery, were still largely employed in the households of the upper classes, as scribes, musicians, teachers, physicians, needle-women and the like.

It is obvious that the new thoughts of converts to the faith of Christ must have brought with them some peculiar dangers.  They had learnt that all men were equal in the sight of God. Might they not be tempted to assert that equality in word or act?

They felt themselves raised to a higher life than their heathen masters.  Could they endure to serve loyally and humbly those whom they looked on as doomed to an inevitable perdition?  Was it not their chief duty to escape by flight or purchase from the degradation and dangers of their position?

The teaching of Paul in 1 Corinthians 7:21-23, as well as in the passages above referred to, shows how strongly he felt the urgency of this danger.



2:19                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     For it is an acceptable thing with God, if, from a sense of duty to Him, a man patiently submits to wrong, when treated unjustly.

WEB:              For it is commendable if someone endures pain, suffering unjustly, because of conscience toward God.

Young’s:         for this is gracious, if because of conscience toward God any one doth endure sorrows, suffering unrighteously;

Conte (RC):    For this is grace: when, because of

God, a man willingly endures sorrows, suffering



2:19                 For this is thankworthy [commendable, NKJV].  An acceptable thing to God.  [47]

Or:  So in Luke 6:32 the same word is used in “what thank have ye,” where the context shows that it is equivalent to a “reward,” and in that case, as in this, a reward from God.  [38]

if a man for conscience toward God.  i.e. [awareness] of His presence as seeing, judging, helping, rewarding, His suffering servants.  The phrase is analogous to the “conscience of the idol” in 1 Corinthians 8:7.  [38]

Or:  That consciousness which we have of God, which at once inspires the sense of duty and elevates the idea of duty.  The idea at its root is knowledge—knowledge specially of the moral quality of our own acts.  It is the “understanding applied to the distinction of good and evil, as reason is the same applied to the distinction of truth and falsehood” (see Godet on Romans 2:15). [51]

endure grief.  The pain and distress caused by abuse, confinement in a slave-prison, beating, and other forms of torture.  Greeks and Orientals treated their slaves, as a rule, more humanely than the Romans, but in the hands of a “froward” master the slave’s lot was deplorable anywhere.  [45]          

The “grief” of the A. V. should be griefs, grievances, or pains.  It carries us back to the “pained” of 1 Peter 1:6, and points to objective external inflictions.  It is the phrase used in Isaiah 53:4.  The verb “endure” here (which occurs only twice again in the N.T., 1 Corinthians 10:13; 2 Timothy 3:11) means to bear up against, and expresses perhaps the effort required to withstand the natural impulse to rise against injustice.  [51]

suffering wrongfully.  Without any good reason.  You’ve done nothing to deserve what you are going through.  [rw]



2:20                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     If you do wrong and receive a blow for it, what credit is there in your bearing it patiently? But if when you do right and suffer for it you bear it patiently, this is an acceptable thing with God.

WEB:              For what glory is it if, when you sin, you patiently endure beating? But if, when you do well, you patiently endure suffering, this is commendable with God.

Young’s:         for what renown is it, if sinning and being buffeted, ye do endure it? but if, doing good and suffering for it, ye do endure, this is gracious with God,

Conte (RC):    For what glory is there, if you sin

and then suffer a beating? But if you do well and

suffer patiently, this is grace with God.


2:20                 For what glory [credit, NKJV] is it.  “Glory”—A poetical and pagan-sounding word, not elsewhere found in the New Testament; in the Old Testament it corresponds to the word “fame,” in Job 28:22.  The sense may be said to be slightly humorous.  “If you make a blunder” (such is the meaning of “fault” here—it might include such things as the breaking of dishes), “and receive a buffet for it” (or a box on the ear—a common punishment of slaves for trifling faults), “and bear it with fortitude” (the meekness of patience has no place in the word), “do you expect to be made the subject of an heroic or dithyrambic poem, to have your name resounded through the world and immortalized among posterity?”  The “for” at the beginning of the clause explains why the writer added “suffering wrongfully” at the end of the last.  [46]

if, when ye be buffeted [beaten, NKJV] for your faults.  That is, if you are punished when you deserve it.  The word “buffet” (κολαφίζω kolaphizō) -- means, to strike with the fist; and then to strike in any way; to maltreat, Matthew 26:67; Mark 14:65; 1 Corinthians 4:11; 2 Corinthians 12:7.  Perhaps there may be a reference here to the manner in which servants were commonly treated, or the kind of punishment to which they were exposed.  They would be likely to be struck in sudden anger, either by the hand, or by anything that was accessible.  [31]

ye shall take it patiently [endure it, Holman, NIV]?  “If, even then, you evince an uncomplaining spirit, and bear it with the utmost calmness and patience, it would be regarded as comparatively no virtue, and as entitling you to no honor.  The feeling of all who saw it would be that you deserved it, and there would be nothing to excite their sympathy or compassion.  The patience evinced might indeed be as great as in the other case, but there would be the feeling that you deserved all that you received.”  The expression here is, doubtless, to be understood comparatively.  The meaning is not that absolutely there would be no more credit due to one who should bear his punishment patiently when he had done wrong, than if he had met it with resistance and complaining; but that there is very little credit in that compared with the patience which an innocent person evinces, who, from regard to the will of God, and by control over all the natural feelings of resentment, meekly [= respectfully] endures wrong.  [31]

but if, when ye do well [good, NKJV], and suffer for it.  Sometimes you may be blamed for what is someone else’s fault but you can’t prove it.  Sometimes you are doing something that is honorable and it is misunderstood or misrepresented.  In other cases, the one in charge is angry because you did the right thing in defiance of their wishes or preferences.  [rw]  

It is a pity that the translators have limited Peter’s meaning by the insertion of the last two words “for it.”  It is unnecessary to understand the suffering to be directly provoked by the well-doing.  It would have done just as well to say, “when ye do well, and yet are ill-treated.”  The “froward” master makes his servants suffer without thinking what he makes them suffer for.  [46]

ye take it patiently.  Patience under undeserved punishment would be exceptional and specially meritorious; Christians might take pride (“glory”) in such conduct on the part of their brethren.  The parallel passages (Ephesians 6:5-9; Colossians 3:22-4:1) also admonish masters to treat their slaves well.  The absence of such an admonition here, as in 1 Timothy 6 and Titus 2, may indicate that few of the Christians addressed owned slaves (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:26, “not many noble”), or may imply that the Apostle thought it unnecessary.  [45]  

this is acceptable [commendable, NKJV] with God.  The Greek word is the same as that rendered “thankworthy” in the previous verse.  It would obviously have been better, though “acceptable” expresses the sense fairly enough, to have retained that word here also.  [38]

Timidity about St. Peter’s theology has caused a difference between the rendering of the same word in two consecutive verses.  It should be translated “thankworthy” here as well as above, and must be taken in precisely the same sense. Observe that the Apostle does not continue, “this is glory,” as we might have expected; a Christian is not supposed to care for such trash as fame.  But a Christian may well care to win the thanks of God!  And such endurance of griefs for God’s sake is now distinctly said to be “thankworthy with God”—i.e., from God’s point of view.  Many things are strictly duty, and yet we do not expect to find them done, and are proportionably grateful when we see that they are done.  And shall we, for the sake of a doctrinal thesis like that, “that man can deserve nothing at the hand of God,” deny to God the possibility of enjoying one of the happiest exercises of love, the sense of gratitude?  [46]

                        Living justly under an unjust system that we cannot change:  He gives no hint that the slave should break with his bondage.  Neither does he give him over to political impotence or social helplessness.  He sets before him principles on which he is to [live] like a Christian, abiding in his calling, principles which also were to work like solvents on the system itself, and gradually to secure its extinction without revolution.  “Nothing indeed marks the Divine character of the Gospel more than its perfect freedom from any appeal to the spirit of political revolution.  The Founder of Christianity and His apostles were surrounded by everything which could tempt human reformers to enter on revolutionary courses. . . . Nevertheless our Lord and His apostles said not a word against the powers and institutions of that evil world.  Their attitude towards them all was that of deep spiritual hostility, and of entire political submission” (see Gold win Smith, Does the Bible sanction American Slavery, p. 55,—a brief but invaluable discussion).  [55]

 There is a profound difference between something that is undesirable and something that is inherently immoral and sinful:  depending upon when and where you are born, you could land up an “inferior” in a slave society, a political dictatorship, a country explicitly run on an ideology founded in atheism or other unbelieving systems of thought.  All are undesirable, but still provide a governing framework that permits society to function.  In such situations the responsibility remains yet the same:  However ugly the particular system is in theory or practice, you still have the obligation to live with personal honor in a system that could easily push you to a violent response.  [rw] 



2:21                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     And it is to this you were called; because Christ also suffered on your behalf, leaving you an example so that you should follow in His steps.

WEB:              For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving you an example, that you should follow his steps,

Young’s:         for to this ye were called, because Christ also did suffer for you, leaving to you an example, that ye may follow his steps,

Conte (RC):    For you have been called to this

because Christ also suffered for us, leaving you an

example, so that you would follow in his footsteps.


2:21                 For even hereunto were ye called.  To exercise a kind and forgiving spirit when injured, and thus honor Christ, who, when injured manifested such a spirit.  Isaiah 53:7-9; Acts 8:32.  [14]

because Christ also suffered for us.  Undeservedly, as Peter shows in the next three verses.  [50]

As referring to His death:  This is the most obvious frame of reference since it is His crucifixion and death on the cross that was used by God to bring redemption to all who would seek it.  But that does not mean it has to be the only one.  [rw]

As referring to all the injustice and opposition He endured throughout His life:  This is the practical rather than the dogmatic view of Christ’s sufferings—a word which must be regarded as relating not to His passion on the cross, but to all that He endured during His life, as is apparent from verse 23, “when He was reviled, reviled not again etc.”  [16]

for us [you, ESV, NASB].  Hyper, “for your benefit,” in your behalf.  We need not insist that this proposition means the same as anti, “in your stead,” as if the doctrine of vicarious atonement depended upon the doubtful meaning of a preposition (anti, “in place of,” is however used by Christ in Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:45), for the doctrine of the vicarious atonement is clearly taught by Paul in all his Epistles, as well as by Peter (1 Peter 2:24; 3:18).  [50]

The best authorities give the second person here [“for you”] instead of the “for us” of the Received Text.  The phrase means here, too, not “in your stead,” but “in your behalf,” or “for your good.”  The idea is that the servant cannot expect to be greater than the Master.  They do not stand alone in suffering.  They are only called to endure as Christ endured. He suffered, and that, too, not on His own account, but in their cause and for their benefit.  [51]

leaving us an example.  Of innocence and patience.  [15]

The word rendered “example” (ὑπογραμμὸν hupogrammon) occurs nowhere else in the New Testament.  It means properly “a writing copy,” such as is set for children; or an outline or sketch for a painter to fill up; and then, in general, an example, a pattern for imitation.  [31]

[The Greek term] is used in this literal sense in 2 Maccabees  2:28-29, and in the metaphorical sense it occurs repeatedly in the Epistle of Clement; in one passage (chap. 16) apparently with a reminiscence of this place, for the author has been quoting the passage of Isaiah to which we shall come presently, and then adds, “See then, beloved sirs, what is the copy which has been set us; for if the Lord was so lowly-minded, what shall we do who through Him have come under the yoke of His grace?” The leaving us of this copy was one of the benefits of His passion implied in “suffered for you.”  [46]

It is not without significance that in almost every instance in which the example of Christ is referred to, it is in special connection with His patience under sufferings.  Stress is laid on his suffering for us, as making the analogy of the pattern sufferer more complete.  He, too, was “buffeted” for no fault of His (Matthew 26:67).  [38]

that ye should follow.  Follow closely, as the verb strictly means, which occurs again in Mark 16:20; 1 Timothy 5:10; 1 Timothy 5:24 (in this last verse pointing to the closeness with which some men’s sins pursue them to judgment).  [51]

                        his steps.  That we should follow him, as if we trod exactly along behind him, and should place our feet precisely where his were.  The meaning is, that there should be the closest imitation or resemblance.  The things in which we are to imitate him are specified in the following verses.  [31]



2:22                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     He never sinned, and no deceitful language was ever heard from His mouth.

WEB:              who did not sin, "neither was deceit found in his mouth."

Young’s:         who did not commit sin, nor was guile found in his mouth,

Conte (RC):    He committed no sin, neither was

deceit found in his mouth.


2:22                 Introductory note:  On the use of Isaiah 53 in verses 22-25.  These verses are an exposition of parts of Isaiah 53, which is here applied to Christ, as in Matthew 8:17; Mark 15:28; Luke 22:37; John 12:38; Acts 8:32-33; Romans 4:25, 10:16; Hebrews 9:28.  What Isaiah 53 referred to in the first instance is a matter of controversy—whether Israel, or the righteous believers in Israel, or some teacher, prophet, or martyr; but it is generally recognized that the prophecy is fulfilled in Christ.  Cf. 3:18.  [45]

Who did no sin.  And therefore did not deserve to suffer any thing.  [47]

It is suggestive as indicating the line of prophetic interpretation in which the Apostle had been led on, that as soon as he begins to speak of the sufferings of Christ, he falls, as it were, naturally into the language of Isaiah 53:9, as he found it (with the one exception that he gives “sin” for “iniquity”) in the LXX version.  [38]

neither was guile.  There was no deceit, hypocrisy, or insincerity. He was in all respects what he professed to be, and he imposed on no one by any false and unfounded claim.  [31]

found in his mouth.  In anything He actually said.  [rw]  

Tie in with “leaving us an example” (verse 21):  that is, He committed neither open nor secret sin.  Words most suitable for the admonition of servants, who easily fall into sins and deceits, reproaches towards their fellow-servants, and threats, arising from anger without strength.  [26]


    In depth:  Peter’s unique position to know this was true [51].  Of all the apostles, Peter, with the single exception of John, had known the Christ of history most intimately, and had seen Him in the circumstances, both public and private, most certain to betray the sinfulness of common human nature, had such been latent in Him.  Peter had felt, too, not less strongly than others, how the type of holiness which Christ taught conflicted with his own traditional Jewish notion of a holiness bound up with the rigid observance of Sabbath laws and ceremonial rules of life.  But with what quiet strength of fixed conviction does he proclaim Christ’s blamelessness!

Nor can Peter’s confession of that sinlessness, as he lingers over it in this section, be said to come behind either Paul’s “who knew no sin” (2 Corinthians 5:21), or John’s “in Him is no sin” (1 John 3:5).  It is the affirmation of a freedom not only from open but also from hidden sin, a sinlessness not in deed only, but also in word, and indeed (as the “guile” implies, on which see also at 1 Peter 2:1) in thought.  The language, as Bengel suggests, is peculiarly pertinent to the case of slaves with their strong temptations to practice deception.

The choice of the verb “was found” or “was discovered” (see also 1 Peter 1:7) is in harmony with the idea of a sinlessness which had stood the test of suspicious sifting and scrutiny.  The statement is given, too, with the direct and positive force of simple historical tenses, which may imply (as Alford puts it) that in no instance did He ever do the wrong deed, or say the guileful word. 



2:23                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     When He was reviled, He did not answer with reviling; when He suffered He uttered no threats, but left His wrongs in the hands of the righteous Judge.

WEB:              Who, when he was cursed, didn't curse back. When he suffered, didn't threaten, but committed himself to him who judges righteously;

Young’s:         who being reviled -- was not reviling again, suffering -- was not threatening, and was committing himself to Him who is judging righteously,

Conte (RC):    And when evil was spoken against

him, he did not speak evil. When he suffered, he did

not threaten. Then he handed himself over to him

who judged him unjustly.


2:23                 Who, when he was reviled.  Here again, though we have no direct quotation, it is impossible to overlook the allusive reference to the silence of the sufferer as portrayed in Isaiah 53:7.  [38]

He was accused of being a seditious man; spoken of as a deceiver; charged with being in league with Beelzebub, the “prince of the devils” and condemned as a blasphemer against God.  This was done:  (a) by the great and the influential of the land; (b) in the most public manner; (c) with a design to alienate his friends from him; (d) with most cutting and severe sarcasm and irony; and, (e) in reference to everything that would most affect a man of delicate and tender sensibility.  [31]

reviled not again.  He asked that justice might be done.  He demanded that if he had spoken evil, they should bear witness of the evil; but beyond that he did not go.  He used no harsh language.  He showed no anger.  He called for no revenge.  He prayed that they might be forgiven.  He calmly stood and bore it all, for he came to endure all kinds of suffering in order that he might set us an example, and make an atonement for our sins.  [31]

when he suffered.  Although sometimes difficult, it is obviously much easier to keep things from coming out of our mouth that ought not when all that is involved is a verbal disagreement.  When it involves physical pain, brutality, and death—that raises the difficulty to a far, far higher level.  [rw]  

he threatened not.  This verse shows how the actual conduct of Christ corresponded to the description, “there was no guile found in his mouth,” and is obviously intended to commend his behavior in this respect as an example to the readers.  This verse is specially illustrated by the incidents of the trial and Passion.  [45]

but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously.  The meaning is, that he committed his cause, his name, his interests, the whole case, to God.  The meaning of the phrase “that judgeth righteously” here is, that God would do him exact justice.  Though wronged by people, he felt assured that he would do right.  He would rescue his name from these reproaches; he would give him the honor in the world which he deserved; and he would bring upon those who had wronged him all that was necessary in order to show his disapprobation of what they had done, and all that would be necessary to give the highest support to the cause of virtue.  Compare Luke 23:46.  [31]

                        What was being committed to God?  “But committed himself.  So the text of the Revisers, Winer, DeWette, Sadler, Plumptre, Lillie, and others; His cause, so margin of Revisers, Calvin, Gerhard, Cook, and others; it, i.e., His wrongs [suffered], so Luther, Huther, Wiesinger, Weiss, Keil, and others.  In the verb no object is expressed, unless it is take in the reflexive sense, he committed himself.  There can be no possible objection to such an interpretation, grammatically or otherwise.  It is true, however, that Christ not only committed Himself, but also His cause, His wrongs [suffered], and even His wrong-doers “to him that judgeth righteously,” i.e., to God the Father.  [50]

                        Additional options:  What is it, however, that Christ is said to have committed to this Righteous Judge?  Many interpreters (e.g. Winer, de Wette, etc.) and Versions (including Wycliffe, the Rhemish, and both the A.V. and the R.V. in the text) supply himself as the object of the committal. This however, is to give the active verb a reflexive force; of which there is no example in the case of this verb, Mark 4:24, which is appealed to, not being really in point.  Hence others make it = committed his judgment, or his cause (so Gerhard, Calvin, Beza, the Syriac, Tyndale, and the margin of both the A.V. and the R.V.), or his punishment (the Genevan), or his vengeance (Cranmer).

The unnamed object, however, should naturally be supplied from the things dealt with in the immediate context.  These are clearly the wrongs patiently endured by Christ.  With Luther, therefore, etc., we may best render it indefinitely “left it,” understanding the “it” to refer to the subjection to reviling and suffering just mentioned.  This is better than (with Alford) to make it = committed His revilers and injurers; although we might thus secure an allusion to Christ’s prayer in behalf of His enemies (Luke 23:34).  [51]



2:24                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     The burden of our sins He Himself carried in His own body to the Cross and bore it there, so that we, having died so far as our sins are concerned, may live righteous lives. By His wounds yours have been healed.

WEB:              who his own self bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live to righteousness; by whose stripes you were healed.

Young’s:         who our sins himself did bear in his body, upon the tree, that to the sins having died, to the righteousness we may live; by whose stripes ye were healed,

Conte (RC):    He himself bore our sins in his body

upon the tree, so that we, having died to sin, would

live for justice. By his wounds, you have been



2:24                 Who his own self.  Not another in his place, as some anciently supposed, because they thought it impossible that the Christ should suffer.  [18]

                        Here again we have an unmistakeable reference to the language of Isaiah 53:12.  The Apostle, though he has begun with pointing to the sufferings of Christ as an example, cannot rest satisfied with speaking of them only under that aspect.  He remembers that his Lord had spoken of Himself as giving His life a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28), of His blood as that of a new covenant (Matthew 26:28).  He must speak accordingly, even to the slaves whom he calls upon to follow in the footsteps of their Master, of the atoning, mediatorial, sacrificial aspects of His death.  [38]

bare our sins.  The penalty for our sins.  [34]

The effect of them.  [14]

The Greek verb for “bare” (anapherein) is always used with a liturgical sacrificial meaning, sometimes, in a directly transitive sense, of him who offers a sacrifice, as James 2:21 (“Abraham … when he had offered Isaac”), Hebrews 7:27, 13:15, and in this very chapter (1 Peter 2:5); sometimes of the victim offered, as bearing the sins of those who have transgressed, and for whom a sacrifice is required, as in Hebrews 9:28 and the LXX of Isaiah 53:12.  Here, Christ being at once the Priest and the Victim, one meaning seems to melt into the other.  He offers Himself: He bears the sins of many.  [38]

in his own body.  Cf. Colossians 1:21-22, “You . . . hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death;” and the clause, “This is my body” (1 Corinthians 11:24).  [45]  

on the tree.  The wood of the cross.  [22]

But if there was a priest and a sacrifice, where was the altar?  The Apostle finds that altar in the cross, just as many of the best commentators, including even Roman theologians like Estius and Aquinas, recognize a reference to the cross in the “we have an altar” of Hebrews 13:10.  In the word for “tree,” used instead of that for “cross,” we have the same term as that in Galatians 3:13, where St Paul’s choice of it was obviously determined by its use in the LXX of Deuteronomy 21:23.  The word was somewhat more generic than “cross,” and included a whole class of punishments to which slaves were subject, impaling, the stocks (Acts 16:24), and the like.  It is possible that St Peter, in writing to slaves, may have chosen it as bringing home to their thoughts the parallelism between Christ’s sufferings and their own; but its occurrence in St Luke’s reports of his speeches in Acts 5:30, 10:39 makes it more probable that it was simply a familiar term with him.  [38]

that we, being dead to sins.  Wholly delivered both from the guilt and power of it: indeed, without an atonement first made for the guilt, we could never have been delivered from the power.  [15]]

The Greek word for “being dead” is a somewhat unusual one, and is not found elsewhere in the New Testament.  As a word it has to a certain extent an euphemistic character, like “departing,” “being away,” and is so far analogous to the exodos or “decease” of 2 Peter 1:15.  The context leaves no doubt that the English rendering of the word fairly expresses its true meaning.  “Having died” would perhaps give more accurately the force of the aorist participle.  The thought presents another instance of parallelism between Peter and Paul (Romans 6:2, 11; Galatians 2:19) so close that it at least suggests the idea of derivation.  In both cases the tense used implies a single act at a definite point of time, and as interpreted by Paul’s teaching, and, we may add, by that of Peter himself (1 Peter 3:21), that point of time can hardly be referred to any other occasion than that of the Baptism of those to whom he writes.  In that rite they were mystically sharers in the death and entombment of Christ, and they were made so in order that they might live to Him in the righteousness of a new life.  [38]

should live unto righteousness.  i.e., the purpose of Christ’s death (not necessarily the whole purpose) was the moral reformation of character and conduct.  Peter’s great object in this Epistle is to induce the professing Christians whom he addresses to live worthily of the gospel; and, to this end, he urges many different considerations in various ways. [45]

The ransom, from the necessity of ourselves bearing the consequences, or legal liabilities of our sins, however, is not an end to itself.  It is done with a view to the killing of the practical power of sin in us, and to our leading a new life.  A death unto the sins which He bore is given here as the position into which we were brought once for all by Christ’s great act of sin-bearing.  Hence the use of the historical past “having died.”  The idea of this death, though it is expressed by a term not found elsewhere in the New Testament, is the same as the Pauline idea (Romans 6:2; 6:11).  And through this death comes the new life which is dedicated to the service of “righteousness;” which term has here, of course, not the theological sense of justification or a justified state, which some still give it, but the ethical sense which it has, e.g., in Romans 6:16, 18-19, etc. [i.e., live righteously], etc.  [51]

by whose stripes ye were healed.  In consequence of whose sufferings.  Isaiah 53:5.  [14]

The word for “stripes” means strictly the livid mark or wheal left on the flesh by the scourge.  Compare Sirach 28:17.  We may well believe that the specific term was chosen rather than any more general word like “sufferings” or “passion,” as bringing before the minds of the slave readers of the Epistle the feature of greatest ignominy in their Lord’s sufferings (Matthew 27:26; Mark 15:15), that in which they might find the closest parallelism with their own.  When the scourge so freely used in Roman households left the quivering flesh red and raw, they were to remember that Christ also had so suffered, and that the stripes inflicted on Him were part of the process by which He was enabled to be the Healer of mankind.  The words are cited from the LXX of Isaiah 53:5.  [38]

And (?):  Mr. Cradoc supposes the meaning of this is, as if he had said:  The blood of Christ, by which your souls are saved, may be a sufficient balm for those wounds and bruises which your cruel masters may inflict upon you; that is, it may so delight your minds as to raise you above an undue regard to and concern about such corporeal sufferings.  [17]


                        In depth:  A more detailed examination of whether the cross was the “altar” on which our sins were sacrificed [51].  [For the “altar” interpretation see above under “on the tree.”] How, then, is the central phrase “bare our sins” to be understood?  The verb occurs indeed in the New Testament (see also 1 Peter 2:7) in the simple sense of carrying up, or bringing up, as e.g. of Christ bringing Peter and James and John up to the Mount of Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1), of Christ being carried up into heaven (Luke 24:51), etc.  It has also the sense, frequent enough in the Classics, of sustaining.

                        Here, however, its accessories shut us up to a choice between two technical meanings, namely, that of offering up, and that of bearing punishment.  Hence some (including the great name of Luther) take the sense to be “made an offering of our sins on the tree,” or “brought our sins as an offering to the tree.”

                        In favor of this, it may be urged that the same verb has already been used in this sense in 1 Peter 2:5 (as it is again in Hebrews 7:27; Hebrews 13:15; cf. also James 2:21), and that there is a distinct analogy in the Old Testament formula used of the priest offering on, or bringing offerings to, the altar (Leviticus 14:20; 2 Chronicles 24:16). 

                        But there are fatal objections to this view, as e.g. the unexampled conception of the sins being themselves the offering; the equally unexampled description of the Cross as an altar (notwithstanding Hebrews 13:10); the fact that it was not upon but before the altar that sacrificial victims under the Old Testament were put to death; and the difference thus created between Peter’s use and Isaiah’s use of the same terms.

                        The other sense, viz. that of bearing the consequences, or paying the penalty, of sin, is supported by the weightiest considerations, as e.g. the fact that the verb in question is one of those by which the Greek Version represents the Hebrew verb, which (when it has “sin” or “iniquity” as its object) means to bear punishment for sin (whether one’s own or that of others) in numerous passages both of the Pentateuch and the prophets (e.g. Leviticus 19:17; Leviticus 20:19; Leviticus 24:15; Numbers 5:31; Numbers 14:34; Ezekiel 4:5; Ezekiel 14:10; Ezekiel 16:58; Ezekiel 23:35); the New Testament analogy in Hebrews 9:28; the harmony with what is said of the Servant of Jehovah in Isaiah 53.  The addition in His body brings out the fact that this endurance of the punishment of our sins was discharged by Him, not remotely as was the case with the Israelite under the Law who brought a victim distinct from himself, but directly in His own person.

                        The phrase to (or, on to, not on) the tree is not inconsistent with this meaning.  It gives the whole sentence the force of a picture representing Christ with our sins upon Him, and carrying them with Him on to the final act of penal endurance on the Cross.

                        The statement, therefore, is more than a figure for securing the forgiveness of sin, and means more than bearing sin sympathetically, burdening one’s heart with the sense of sin, or destroying the power of sin in us.  It involves the two ideas of sacrifice and substitution; the latter having additional point given it by the “Himself” (or, as our E.V. puts it, “His own self”), which is set both emphatically first and in antithetical relation to “our sins.”

                        It can scarcely mean less than what Weiss recognizes when he says:  “It is plain, therefore, that in consequence of Isaiah 3, Peter regards this sin-bearing of Christ in behalf of sinners as the means whereby sin has been removed from them, and by which, therefore, the stain of guilt has been effaced’ (Bib. Theol. i. p. 233, Eng. Trans.).  It gives no theory, however, of how this sin-bearing carried such efficacy with it.



2:25                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     For you were straying like lost sheep, but now you have come back to the Shepherd and Protector of your souls.

WEB:              For you were going astray like sheep; but now have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

Young’s:         for ye were as sheep going astray, but ye turned back now to the shepherd and overseer of your souls.

Conte (RC):    For you were like wandering sheep.

But now you have been turned back toward the Pastor

and the Bishop of your souls.


2:25                 For ye were as sheep going astray.  From their pastures, their shepherd, and his flock, and exposed to want and the danger of being lost in the wilderness, or destroyed by wild beasts; ye were wandering out of the way of truth and duty, of safety, holiness, and happiness, into the by-paths of error and sin, of guilt and misery — paths leading to certain destruction.  [47]

The sequence of thought is suggested by the “all we like sheep have gone astray” of Isaiah 53:6, but the imagery could scarcely fail to recall to the mind of the Apostle the state of Israel “as sheep that had no shepherd” (Matthew 9:36), and the parable of the lost sheep (Matthew 18:12-13; Luke 15:4).  The image had been a familiar one almost from the earliest times to describe the state of a people plunged into anarchy and confusion by the loss of their true leader (Numbers 27:17; 1 Kings 22:17).  [38]

but are now returned unto the Shepherd.  We can scarcely fail to connect the words with those which Peter had once heard as to the “other sheep” who were not of the “fold” of Galilee and Jerusalem (John 10:16).  In the “strangers of the dispersion” he might well recognize some, at least, of those other sheep.  In the thought of Christ as the “Shepherd” we have primarily the echo of the teaching of our Lord just referred to, but the name at least suggests a possible reference to the older utterances of prophecy and devotion in Psalm 23:1; Isaiah 40:11; Ezekiel 34:23-24.  [38]

“Shepherd” is often used in the Old Testament for the leaders of Israel; and sometimes for Jehovah (Psalms 23:1, 80:1).  In the New Testament it is used of Christ (Mark 14:27); “the good Shepherd” (John 10:11, 14; Hebrews 13:20; and cf. 1 Peter 5:4). [45]

returned.  The same verb is used in 1 Thessalonians 1:9 of the conversion of Gentiles, “Ye turned unto God from idols.”  “Turned round to” gives the sense better.  It does not mean that the readers had once been in true fellowship with God, had wandered away, and then at their conversion returned to Him; but that once they were wandering far from God in a direction which led away from Him, and at their conversion they turned round, and began to move in a direction leading to Christ.  [45]

and Bishop [Overseer, NKJV].  In the word for “Bishop” (episcopos) (better perhaps, looking to the later associations that have gathered round the English term) guardian or protector, we may, possibly, find a reference to the use of the cognate verb in the LXX of Ezekiel 34:11.  It deserves to be noted, however, that the Greek noun is often used in the New Testament in special association with the thought of the Shepherd’s work.  Compare Acts 20:28, 1 Peter 5:4.  So in like manner, “Pastors” or “Shepherds” find their place in the classification of Christian Ministers in Ephesians 4:11.  [38]

“Bishop” as a technical ecclesiastical term cannot be correct here for the Greek episkopos, but “overseer” as Revised Version margin.  The word is only used of Christ here in the New Testament.  Episkopos is used of God in the LXX in Job 20:29b (where E.V., following the Hebrew, has “God”), and in Wisdom of Solomon 1:6.  [45]

of your souls.  Here is, perhaps, a special stress laid on Christ being the Shepherd of their souls.  Their bodies might be subject to the power and caprices of their masters, but their higher nature, that which was their true self, was subject only to the loving care of the Great Shepherd.  [38]










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