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The First Letter of Peter: Chapter 2

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1Rid yourselves, therefore, of all malice, and all guile, insincerity, envy, and all slander. 2Like newborn infants, long for the pure, spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow into salvation— 3if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.

4Come to him, a living stone, though rejected by mortals yet chosen and precious in God's sight, and 5like living stones, let yourselves be built e Or you yourselves are being built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6For it stands in scripture:

“See, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious; and whoever believes in him f Or it will not be put to shame.”

7To you then who believe, he is precious; but for those who do not believe,

“The stone that the builders rejected has become the very head of the corner,”

8and

“A stone that makes them stumble, and a rock that makes them fall.”

They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.

9But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own people, a Gk a people for his possession in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.10

Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

11Beloved, I urge you as aliens and exiles to abstain from the desires of the flesh that wage war against the soul. 12Conduct yourselves honorably among the Gentiles, so that, though they malign you as evildoers, they may see your honorable deeds and glorify God when he comes to judge. b Gk God on the day of visitation

13For the Lord's sake accept the authority of every human institution, c Or every institution ordained for human beings whether of the emperor as supreme, 14or of governors, as sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to praise those who do right. 15For it is God's will that by doing right you should silence the ignorance of the foolish. 16As servants d Gk slaves of God, live as free people, yet do not use your freedom as a pretext for evil. 17Honor everyone. Love the family of believers. e Gk Love the brotherhood Fear God. Honor the emperor.

18Slaves, accept the authority of your masters with all deference, not only those who are kind and gentle but also those who are harsh. 19For it is a credit to you if, being aware of God, you endure pain while suffering unjustly. 20If you endure when you are beaten for doing wrong, what credit is that? But if you endure when you do right and suffer for it, you have God's approval. 21For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in his steps.22

“He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.”

23When he was abused, he did not return abuse; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he entrusted himself to the one who judges justly. 24He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, f Or carried up our sins in his body to the tree so that, free from sins, we might live for righteousness; by his wounds g Gk bruise you have been healed. 25For you were going astray like sheep, but now you have returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls.

Notes:

e Or you yourselves are being built

f Or it

a Gk a people for his possession

b Gk God on the day of visitation

c Or every institution ordained for human beings

d Gk slaves

e Gk Love the brotherhood

f Or carried up our sins in his body to the tree

g Gk bruise

Text Commentary view alone
Commentary spanning earlier chapters

1.13–5.11 : Body of the letter,

a united whole though incorporating elements of earlier Christian tradition.

1.13–2.10 :

The new identity as the elect and holy people of God. On the basis of the preceding indicative statements of God's mighty acts, imperatives are given for the Christian life.

13 :

The first imperative (in Greek) in the letter is the command to live in the hope of Christ's triumphal appearance.

15 :

The second imperative to be holy means to live a life set apart for God's service, though in the midst of the world.

16 :

Quoting Lev 11.44–45; 19.2; 20.7 .

17 :

The third imperative is to live in reverent fear of God rather than the oppressive culture (cf. 2.17; 3.14 ).

19 :

Lamb without … blemish, see Lev 23.12; Num 6.14; etc.

21 :

Christian faith is theocentric, in God who has acted definitively in Christ.

22 :

The fourth imperative is the command of love, unselfish caring for others (see Mt 22.34–40; Rom 13.8–10; 1 Cor 13 ).

24–25 :

Isa 40.6–8 .

2.1–10 :

The fifth imperative is to long for the means of spiritual nourishment so that they may grow ( 2.2 ). After the new birth comes nurture that leads to maturity.

3 :

Ps 34.8 .

4 :

Ps 118.22; Isa 28.16; Mt 21.42 .

5–8 :

The imagery modulates from birth and growth to the construction of a spiritual house (temple) and then to a holy priesthood. The images of the Christian life are communal rather than individualistic.

6 :

Isa 28.16 .

7 :

Ps 118.22 .

8 :

Isa 8.14–15 .

9–10 :

Hos 2.23; Ex 19.6 . Language used for Israel in the Hebrew Bible is applied to the readers, who were formerly Gentiles ( 1.18 ).

2.11–3.12 :

Christian existence and conduct in society. Cf. Col 3.18–4.1; Eph 5.22–6.9; Titus 2.1–10; 1 Tim 2–3; 5.1–3 . The Roman Empire, the institution of slavery, and the patriarchal family are accepted as the present order of things that is soon to pass away (see 1.17; 2.11; 4.7 ).

11–12 :

Christian conduct within social structures is a testimony to others.

13–17 :

Instructions to all on attitude to God, the state, and each other.

14 :

Governors, of provinces of the Roman Empire.

17 :

Cf. Rom 13.7 .

18–25 :

Instructions to slaves, leading into a more general comment addressed to a wider audience (see note on 3.8–12 ). Though resembling the typical household codes of Hellenistic moralists, the author's instruction is based on the example of Christ who suffered unjustly, in words that reflect the suffering servant of Isa 53.5–12 .

22 :

Isa 53.9 .

3.1–7 :

Instructions to wives and husbands.

1 :

Unbelieving husbands may be converted without preaching or argument by the Christian example of their wives; cf. 1 Cor 7.12–16 .

6 :

See Gen 18.12 (where NRSV translates the word “lord” as “husband”).

8–12 :

Concluding instructions to all. The more vulnerable members of the church, slaves and wives, are examples of the conduct required of the whole church, which is in a vulnerable position in a hostile society.

10–12 :

Ps 34.12–16 .

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