1 Peter 1
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1 Peter - An Exposition, with Practical Observations, of The First Epistle General of Peter
Two epistles we have enrolled in the sacred canon of the scripture written by Peter, who was a most eminent apostle of Jesus Christ, and whose character shines brightly as it is described in the four Gospels and in the Acts of the Apostles, but, as it is painted by the papists and legendary writers, it represents a person of extravagant pride and ambition. It is certain from scripture that Simon Peter was one of the first of those whom our Lord called to be his disciples and followers, that he was a person of excellent endowments, both natural and gracious, of great parts and ready elocution, quick to apprehend and bold to execute whatever he knew to be his duty. When our Saviour called his apostles, and gave them their commission, he nominated him first in the list; and by his behaviour towards him he seems to have distinguished him as a special favourite among the twelve. Many instances of our Lord's affection to him, both during his life and after his resurrection, are upon record. But there are many things confidently affirmed of this holy man that are directly false: as, That he had a primacy and superior power over the rest of the apostles - that he was more than their equal - that he was their prince, monarch, and sovereign - and that he exercised a jurisdiction over the whole college of the apostles: moreover, That he as the sole and universal pastor over all the Christian world, the only vicar of Christ upon earth - that he was for above twenty years bishop of Rome - that the popes of Rome succeed to St. Peter, and derive from him a universal supremacy and jurisdiction over all churches and Christians upon earth - and that all this was by our Lord's ordering and appointment; whereas Christ never gave him any pre-eminence of this kind, but positively forbade it, and gave precepts to the contrary. The other apostles never consented to any such claim. Paul declares himself not a whit behind the very chief apostles, 2Co. 11:5 and 2Co. 12:11. Here is no exception of Peter's superior dignity, whom Paul took the freedom to blame, and withstood him to the face, Gal. 2:11. And Peter himself never assumed any thing like it, but modestly styles himself an apostle of Jesus Christ; and, when he writes to the presbyters of the church, he humbly places himself in the same rank with them: The elders who are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, 1Pe. 5:1. See Dr. Barrow on the pope's supremacy.
The design of this first epistle is, I. To explain more fully the doctrines of Christianity to these newly-converted Jews. II. To direct and persuade them to a holy conversation, in the faithful discharge of all personal and relative duties, whereby they would secure their own peace and effectually confute the slanders and reproaches of their enemies. III. To prepare them for sufferings. This seems to be his principal intention; for he has something to this purport in every chapter, and does, by a great variety of arguments, encourage them to patience and perseverance in the faith, lest the persecutions and sad calamities that were coming upon them should prevail with them to apostatize from Christ and the gospel. It is remarkable that you find not so much as one word savouring of the spirit and pride of a pope in either of these epistles. — Henry
► 1 Peter - INTRODUCTION TO 1 PETER
That Simon, called Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, was the writer of this epistle, is not questioned by any; nor was the genuineness and authenticity of it ever made a doubt of. Eusebius says (a), that it had been confessed by all, and received without controversy; and that the ancients, without any scruple, had made use of it in their writings. It is called his "general", or catholic epistle, because it was not written to any particular person, or to any particular church, but in general, to a number of Christians dispersed in several places. The time when this epistle was written is not certain; some place it in the year of Christ 44 or 45, and so make it to be the most ancient of all the epistles, and which is the more commonly received opinion; but Dr. Lightfoot (b) places it in the year 65, because in it the apostle speaks of the end of all things being at hand, and of the fiery trial just coming on them, and of judgment beginning at the house of God, 1Pe. 4:7 all which he applies to the destruction of Jerusalem; though others fix it to 61, in the seventh year of Nero (c). The place from whence it seems to be written was Babylon, 1Pe. 5:13 which is to be understood not figuratively, either of Rome or Jerusalem, but properly of Babylon, the metropolis of Chaldea, or Assyria. The persons to whom it is written were Jews, at least chiefly; for there might be some Gentiles among them, who may be taken notice of in some parts of the epistle; but the principal part were Jews, as appears from their being called the strangers of the dispersion, or, as James calls them, "the twelve tribes scattered abroad"; from the mention of the tradition of their fathers; from their having their conversation honest among the Gentiles, and their past life among them; from urging subjection to the civil magistrates among the Heathens, and the right use of their Christian liberty as to the ceremonies of the law; and from the near destruction of Jerusalem, which could only affect them; and from the use made of the writings of the Old Testament, and the authority of the prophets; see 1Pe. 1:1 as well as from the second epistle, which was written to the same; see 2Pe. 1:19 in which he seems to refer to the epistle to the Hebrews, written by Paul, as to these. And besides, Peter was the minister of the circumcision, or of the circumcised Jews, as Paul was of the Gentiles; and even those passages in this epistle, which seem most likely to concern the Gentiles, may be understood of the Jews, as which speak of their ignorance, idolatry, and having not been a people, 1Pe. 1:14 which were true of them before conversion, and as living among Gentiles. The occasion of writing it was this; Peter meeting with Sylvanus, a faithful brother, and who had been a companion of the Apostle Paul, he takes this opportunity of sending a letter by him to the converted Jews, dispersed among the Gentile countries, where he, with Paul, and others, travelled: the design of which is to testify of the true doctrine of grace, in which they were agreed; see 1Pe. 5:12. And accordingly in it he does treat of the doctrine of electing grace, of redeeming grace, of regenerating and sanctifying grace, and of persevering grace; and exhorts believers to the exercise of grace, of faith, hope, and love, and to the discharge of such duties becoming their several stations, whereby they might evidence to others the truth of grace in themselves, and adorn the doctrine of the grace of God, and recommend it to others: and particularly he exhorts them patiently to bear all afflictions and persecutions they should meet with, for their profession of the true grace of God, in which he encourages them to stand steadfast: and this is the general scope and design of the epistle.
(a) Eccl. Hist. l. 3. c. 3. (b) Harmony, &c. Vol. I. p. 335. (c) Fabricii Bibliothec. Graec. l. 4. c. 5. sect. 10. p. 164. — Gill
► 1 Peter - Introduction to 1 Peter
The First Epistle of Peter has never been doubted to be the production of the apostle of that name. While there were doubts respecting the genuineness of the Second Epistle (see the introduction to that Epistle, Section 1), the unvarying testimony of history, and the uniform belief of the church, ascribe this Epistle to Peter. Indeed, there is no ancient writing whatever of which there is more certainty in regard to the authorship.
The history of Peter is so fully detailed in the New Testament, that it is not necessary to go into any extended statement of his biography in order to an exposition of his Epistles. No particular light would be reflected on them from the details of his life; and in order, therefore, to their exposition, it is not necessary to have any further information of him than what is contained in the New Testament itself. Those who may wish to obtain all the knowledge of his life which can now be had, may find ample details in Lardner, vol. vi. pp. 203-254, ed. London, 1829; Koppe, Prolegomena; and Bacon’s Lives of the Apostles, pp. 43-286. There are some questions, however, which it is important to consider in order to an intelligent understanding of his Epistles.
Section 1. The Persons to Whom the First Epistle Was Addressed
This Epistle purports to have been addressed “to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia.” All these were provinces of Asia Minor; and there is no difficulty, therefore, in regard to the places where those to whom the Epistle was written resided. The only question is, who they were who are thus designated as “strangers scattered abroad,” or strangers of the dispersion, (παρεπιδήμοις διασπορᾶς parepidēmois diasporas.) Compare the notes at 1Pe. 1:1. In regard to this, various opinions have been held:
(1) That they were native-born Jews, who had been converted to the Christian faith. Of this opinion were Eusebius, Jerome, Grotius, Beza, Mill, Cave, and others. The principal argument for this opinion is the appellation given to them, which it is supposed is language which would be applied only to those of Hebrew extraction.
(2) a second opinion has been that the persons to whom it was sent were all of Gentile origin. Of this opinion were Procopius, Cassiodorus, and more recently Wetstein. This belief is founded chiefly on such passages as the following: 1Pe. 1:18; 1Pe. 2:10; 1Pe. 4:3 - which are supposed to show that they who were thus addressed were formerly idolaters.
(3) a third opinion has been that they were Gentiles by birth, but had been Jewish proselytes, or “proselytes of the gate,” and had then been converted to Christianity. This sentiment was defended by Michaelis, chiefly on the ground that the phrase in 1Pe. 1:1, “strangers of the dispersion,” when followed by the name of a pagan country or people, in the genitive case, denotes the Jews who were dispersed there, and yet that there is evidence in the Epistle that they were not native-born Jews.
(4) a fourth opinion has been that the persons referred to were not Jews in general, but those of the 10 tribes who had wandered from Babylon and the adjacent regions into Asia Minor. This opinion is mentioned by Michaelis as having been entertained by some persons, but no reasons are assigned for it.
(5) a fifth opinion has been that the persons referred to were Christians, converted from both Jews and Gentiles, with no particular reference to their extraction; that there were those among them who had been converted from the Jews, and those who had been Gentiles, and that the apostle addresses them as Christians, though employing language such as the Jews had been accustomed to, when speaking of those of their own nation who were scattered abroad. This is the opinion of Lardner, Estius, Whitby, Wolfius, and Doddridge.
That this last opinion is the correct one, seems to me to be clear from the Epistle itself. Nothing can be plainer than that the apostle, while in the main he addresses Christians as such, whether they had been Jews or pagan, yet occasionally makes such allusions, and uses such language, as to show that he had his eye, at one time, on some who had been Jews, and again on some who had been pagans. This is clear, I think, from the following considerations:
(1) The address of the Epistle is general, not directed particularly either to the Jews or to the Gentiles. Thus, in 1Pe. 5:14, he says, “Peace be with you all that are in Christ Jesus.” From this it would seem that the Epistle was addressed to all true Christians in the region designated in 1Pe. 1:1. But no one can doubt that there were Christians there who had been Jews, and also those who had been Gentiles. The same thing is apparent from the Second Epistle; for it is certain, from 2Pe. 3:2, that the Second Epistle was addressed to the same persons as the First. But the address in the Second Epistle is to Christians residing in Asia Minor, without particular reference to their origin. Thus, in 1Pe. 1:1, “To them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.” The same thing is apparent also from the address of the First Epistle: “To the elect strangers scattered throughout Pontus,” etc.; that is, “to the strangers of the dispersion who are chosen, or who are true Christians, scattered abroad.” The term “elect” is one which would apply to all who were Christians; and the phrase, “the strangers of the dispersion,” is that which one who had been educated as a Hebrew would be likely to apply to those whom he regarded as the people of God dwelling out of Palestine. The Jews were accustomed to use this expression to denote their own people who were dispersed among the Gentiles; and nothing would be more natural than that one who had been educated as a Hebrew, and then converted to Christianity, as Peter had been, should apply this phrase indiscriminately to Christians living out of Palestine. See the notes on the passage. These considerations make it clear that in writing this Epistle he had reference to Christians as such, and meant that all who were Christians in the parts of Asia Minor which he mentions 1Pe. 1:1 should regard the Epistle as addressed to them.
(2) yet there are some allusions in the Epistle which look as if a part of them at least had been Jews before their conversion, or such as a Jew would better understand than a Gentile would. Indeed, nothing is more probable than that there were Jewish converts in that region. We know that there were many Jews in Asia Minor; and, from the Acts of the Apostles, it is morally certain that not a few of them had been converted to the Christian faith under the labors of Paul. Of the allusions of the kind referred to in the Epistle, the following may be taken as specimens: But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people,” 1Pe. 2:9. This is such language as was commonly used by the Jews when addressing their own countrymen as the people of God; and would seem to imply that to some of those at least to whom the Epistle was addressed, it was language which would be familiar. See also 1Pe. 3:6. It should be said, however, that these passages are not positive proof that any among them were Hebrews. While it is true that it is such language as would be naturally employed in addressing those who were, and while it supposes an acquaintance among them with the Old Testament, it is also true that it is such language as one who had himself been educated as an Hebrew would not unnaturally employ when addressing any whom he regarded as the people of God.
(3) the passages in the Epistle which imply that many of those to whom it was addressed had been Gentiles or idolaters, are still more clear. Such passages are the following: “As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to your former lusts in your ignorance,” 1Pe. 1:14. “This,” says Dr. Lardner, “might be very pertinently said to men converted from Gentilism to Christianity; but no such thing is ever said by the apostles concerning the Jewish people who had been favored with the Divine revelation, and had the knowledge of the true God.” So in 1Pe. 2:9, Peter speaks of them as “having been called out of darkness into marvelous light.” The word “darkness” is one which would be naturally applied to those who had been pagans, but would not be likely to be applied to those who had had the knowledge of God as revealed in the Jewish Scriptures. So in 1Pe. 2:10, it is expressly said of them, “which in time past was not a people, but are now the people of God” - language which would not be applied to those who had been Jews. So also 1Pe. 4:3, “For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries.”
Though the apostle here uses the word “us,” grouping himself with them, yet it cannot be supposed that he means to charge himself with these things. It is a mild and gentle way of speech, adopted not to give offence, and is such language as a minister of the gospel would now use, who felt that he was himself a sinner, in addressing a church made up of many individuals. Though it might be true that he had not been guilty of the particular offences which he specifies, yet in speaking in the name of the church, he would use the term we, and use it honestly and correctly. It would be true that the church had been formerly guilty of these things; and this would be a much more mild, proper, and effective method of address, than to say you. But the passages adduced here prove conclusively that some of those whom Peter addresses in the Epistle had been formerly idolaters, and had been addicted to the sins which idolaters are accustomed to commit.
These considerations make it clear that the Epistle was addressed to those Christians in general who were scattered throughout the various provinces of Asia Minor which are specified in 1Pe. 1:1, whether they had been Jews or Gentiles. It is probable that the great body of them had been converted from the pagan, though there were doubtless Jewish converts intermingled with them; and Peter uses such language as would be natural for one who had been a Jew himself in addressing those whom he now regarded as the chosen of God.
Section 2. The Time and Place of Writing the Epistle
On this point also there has been no little diversity of opinion. The only designation of the place where it was written which occurs in the Epistle is in 1Pe. 5:13; “The church that is at Babylon, elected together with you, saluteth you.” From this it is clear that it was written at Babylon, but still there has been no little difference of opinion as to what place is meant here by Babylon. Some have supposed that it refers to the well-known place of that name on the Euphrates; others to a Babylon situated in Lower Egypt; others to Jerusalem or Rome, represented as Babylon. The claims of each of these places it is proper to examine. The order in which this is done is not material.
(1) the opinion that the “Babylon” mentioned in the Epistle refers to a place of that name in Egypt, not far from Cairo. This opinion was held by Pearson and Le Clere, and by most of the Coptic interpreters, who have endeavored to vindicate the honor of their own country, Egypt, as a place where one of the books of Scripture was composed. See Koppe, Prolegomena, 12. That there was such a place in Egypt, there can be no doubt. It was a small town to the northeast of Cairo, where there was a strong castle in the time of Strabo, (i. 17, p. 807,) in which, under Tiberius, there were quartered three Roman legions, designed to keep the Egyptians in order. But there is little reason to suppose that there were many Jews there, or that a church was early collected there. The Jews would have been little likely to resort to a place which was merely a Roman garrison, nor would the apostles have been likely to go early to such a place to preach the gospel. Compare Basnage, Ant. 36, num. xxvii. As Lardner well remarks, if Peter had written an Epistle from Egypt, it would have been likely to have been from Alexandria. Besides, there is not, for the first four centuries, any notice of a church at Babylon in Egypt; a fact which can hardly be accounted for, if it had been supposed that one of the sacred books had been composed there. - Lardner, vol. vi. 265. It may be added, also, that as there was another place of that name on the Euphrates, a place much better known, and which would be naturally supposed to be the one referred to, it is probable that if the Epistle had been composed at the Babylon in Egypt, there would have been something said clearly to distinguish it. If the Epistle was written at the Babylon on the Euphrates, so well known was that place that no one would be likely to understand that the Babylon in Egypt was the place referred to; on the other supposition, however, nothing would be more likely than that a mistake should occur.
(2) others have supposed that Jerusalem is intended, and that the name was given to it on account of its wickedness, and because it resembled Babylon. This was the opinion of Capellus, Spanheim, Hardouin, and some others. But the objections to this are obvious:
(a) There is no evidence that the name Babylon was ever given to Jerusalem, or so given to it as to make it commonly understood that that was the place intended when the term was employed. If not so, its use would be likely to lead those to whom the Epistle was addressed into a mistake.
(b) There is every reason to suppose that an apostle in writing a letter, if he mentioned the place at all where it was written, would mention the real name. So Paul uniformly does.
(c) The name Babylon is not one which an apostle would be likely to give to Jerusalem; certainly not as the name by which it was to be familiarly known.
(d) If the Epistle had been written there, there is no conceivable reason why the name of the place should not have been mentioned.
(3) others have supposed that Rome is intended by the name Babylon. This was the opinion of many of the Fathers, and also of Bede, Valesius, Grotius, Cave, Whitby, and Lardner. The principal reasons for this are, that such is the testimony of Papias, Eusebius, and Jerome; and that at that time Babylon on the Euphrates was destroyed. See Lardner. But the objections to this opinion seem to me to be insuperable.
(a) There is no evidence that at that early period the name Babylon was given to Rome, nor were there any existing reasons why it should be. The name is generally supposed to have been applied to it by John, in the book of Revelation, Rev. 16:19; Rev. 17:5; Rev. 18:10, Rev. 18:21; but this was probably long after this Epistle was written, and for reasons which did not exist in the time of Peter. There is no evidence that it was given familiarly to it in the time of Peter, or even at all until after his death. Certain it is, that it was not given so familiarly to it that when the name Babylon was mentioned it would be generally understood that Rome was intended. But the only reason which Peter could have had for mentioning the name Babylon at all, was to convey some definite and certain information to those to whom he wrote.
(b) As has been already observed, the apostles, when they sent an epistle to the churches, and mentioned a place as the one where the Epistle was written, were accustomed to mention the real place.
(c) It would be hardly consistent with the dignity of an apostle, or any grave writer, to make use of what would be regarded as a nickname, when suggesting the name of a place where he then was.
(d) If Rome had been meant, it would have been hardly respectful to the church there which sent the salutation - “The church that is at Babylon, elected together with you” - to have given it this name. Peter mentions the church with respect and kindness; and yet it would have been scarcely regarded as kind to mention it as a “Church in Babylon,” if he used the term Babylon, as he must have done on such a supposition, to denote a place of eminent depravity.
(e) The testimony of the Fathers on this subject does not demonstrate that Rome was the place intended. So far as appears from the extracts relied on by Lardner, they do not give this as historical testimony, but as their own interpretation; and, from anything that appears, we are as well qualified to interpret the word as they were.
(f) In regard to the objection that Babylon was at that time destroyed, it may be remarked that this is true so far as the original splendor of the city was concerned, but still there may have been a sufficient population there to have constituted a church. The destruction of Babylon was gradual. It had not become an utter desert in the time of the apostles. In the first century of the Christian era a part of it was inhabited, though the greater portion of its former site was a waste. See the notes at Isa. 13:19. Compare Diod. Sic., ii. 27. All that time, there is no improbability in supposing that a Christian church may have existed there. It should be added here, however, that on the supposition that the word Babylon refers to Rome, rests nearly all the evidence which the Roman Catholics can adduce that the apostle Peter was ever at Rome at all. There is nothing else in the New Testament that furnishes the slightest proof that he ever was there. The only passage on which Bellarmine relies to show that Peter was at Rome, is the very passage now under consideration. “That Peter was one time at Rome,” he says, “we show first from the testimony of Peter himself, who thus speaks at the end of his First Epistle: “The church that is at Babylon, elected together with you, saluteth you.” He does not pretend to cite any other evidence from Scripture than this; nor does any other writer.
(4) there remains the fourth opinion, that the well-known Babylon on the Euphrates was the place where the Epistle was written. This was the opinion of Erasmus, Drusius, Lightfoot, Bengel, Wetstein, Basnage, Beausobre, and others. That this is the correct opinion seems to me to be clear from the following considerations:
(a) It is the most natural and obvious interpretation. It is that which would occur to the great mass of the readers of the New Testament now, and is that which would have been naturally adopted by those to whom the Epistle was sent. The word Babylon, without something to give it a different application, would have been understood anywhere to denote the well-known place on the Euphrates.
(b) There is, as has been observed already, no improbability that there was a Christian church there, but there are several circumstances which render it probable that this would be the case:
1. Babylon had been an important place; and its history was such, and its relation to the Jews such, as to make it probable that the attention of the apostles would be turned to it.
2. The apostles, according to all the traditions which we have respecting them, traveled extensively in the East, and nothing would be more natural than that they should visit Babylon.
3. There were many Jews of the captivity remaining in that region, and it would be in the highest degree probable that they would seek to carry the gospel to their own countrymen there. See Koppe, Proleg., pp. 16-18. Jos. Ant., b. xv., chapter ii., Section 2; chapter iii., Section 1. Philo. Do Virtut., p. 587.
These considerations make it clear that the place where the Epistle was written was Babylon on the Euphrates, the place so celebrated in ancient sacred and profane history. If this be the correct view, then this is a fact of much interest, as showing that even in apostolic times there was a true church in a place once so distinguished for splendor and wickedness, and so memorable for its acts in oppressing the ancient people of God. Our information respecting this church, however, ceases here. We know not by whom it was founded; we know not who were its pastors; nor do we know how long it survived. As Babylon, however, continued rapidly to decline, so that in the second century nothing remained but the walls (compare the notes at Isa. 13:19), there is no reason to suppose that the church long existed there. Soon the ancient city became a heap of ruins; and excepting that now and then a Christian traveler or missionary has visited it, it is not known that a prayer has been offered there from generation to generation, or that amidst the desolations there has been a single worshipper of the true God. See this subject examined at length in Bacon’s Lives of the Apostles, pp. 258-263.
In regard to the time when this First Epistle was written, nothing certainly can be determined. There are no marks of time in the Epistle itself, and there are no certain data from which we can determine when it was composed. Lardner supposes that it was in the year 63, or 64 a.d., or at the latest 65 a.d.; Michaelis, that it was about the year 60 a.d. If it was written at Babylon, it was probably some time between the year 58 and 61 a.d. The time is not material, and it is impossible now to determine it.
Section 3. The Characteristics of the First Epistle of Peter
(1) The Epistles of Peter are distinguished for great tenderness of manner, and for bringing forward prominently the most consolatory parts of the gospel. He wrote to those who were in affliction; he was himself an old man 2Pe. 1:14; he expected soon to be with his Saviour; he had nearly done with the conflicts and toils of life; and it was natural that he should direct his eye onward, and should dwell on those things in the gospel which were adapted to support and comfort the soul. There is, therefore, scarcely any part of the New Testament where the ripe and mellow Christian will find more that is adapted to his matured feelings, or to which he will more naturally turn.
(2) there is great compactness and terseness of thought in his Epistles. They seem to be composed of a succession of texts, each one fitted to constitute the subject of a discourse. There is more that a pastor would like to preach on in a course of expository lectures, and less that he would be disposed to pass over as not so well adapted to the purposes of public instruction, than in almost any other part of the New Testament. There is almost nothing that is local or of temporary interest; there are no discussions about points pertaining to Jewish customs such as we meet with in Paul; there is little that pertains particularly to one age of the world or country. Almost all that he has written is of universal applicability to Christians, and may be read with as much interest and profit now by us as by the people to whom his Epistles were addressed.
(3) there is evidence in the Epistles of Peter that the author was well acquainted with the writings of the apostle Paul. See this point illustrated at length in Eichlorn, Einleitung in das Neue Tes. viii. 606-618, Section 284, and Michaelis, Introduction, vol. iv. p. 323, following Peter himself speaks of his acquaintance with the Epistles of Paul, and ranks them with the inspired writings. 2Pe. 3:15-16, “even as our beloved brother Paul also, according to the wisdom given unto him, hath written unto you; as also in all his Epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other Scriptures, unto their own destruction.” Indeed, to any one who will attentively compare the Epistles of Peter with those of Paul, it will be apparent that he was acquainted with the writings of the Apostle of the Gentiles, and had become so familiar with the modes of expression which he employed, that he naturally fell into it. There is that kind of coincidence which would be expected when one was accustomed to read what another had written, and when he had great respect for him, but not that when there was a purpose to borrow or from him. This will be apparent by a reference to a few parallel passages:
See also the following passages:
These coincidences are not such as would occur between two authors when one had no acquaintance with the writings of the other; and they thus demonstrate, what may be implied in 2Pe. 3:15, that Peter was familiar with the Epistles of Paul. This also would seem to imply that the Epistles of Paul were in general circulation.
(4) “in the structure of his periods,” says Michaelis, “Peter has this peculiarity, that he is fond of beginning a sentence in such a manner that it shall refer to a principal word in the preceding. The consequence of this structure is, that the sentences, instead of being rounded, according to the manner of the Greeks, are drawn out to a great length; and in many places where we should expect that a sentence would be closed, a new clause is attached, and another again to this, so that before the whole period comes to an end, it contains parts which, at the commencement of the period, do not appear to have been designed for it.” This manner of writing is also found often in the Epistles of Paul.
The canonical authority of this Epistle has never been disputed. For a view of the contents of it, see the analysis prefixed to the several chapters. — Barnes
► 1 Peter - Preface to the First and Second Epistles of Peter
Dr. Lardner and Professor Michaelis have done much to remove several difficulties connected with the person of St. Peter, the people to whom he wrote, the places of their dispersion, and the time of writing. I shall extract what makes more immediately for my purpose.
“The land of Palestine, says Cave, at and before the coming of our blessed Savior, was distinguished into three several provinces, Judea, Samaria, and Galilee. In the upper, called also Galilee of the Gentiles, within the division belonging to the tribe of Naphtali, stood Bethsaida, formerly an obscure and inconsiderable village, till lately re-edified and enlarged by Philip the Tetrarch; and, in honor of Julia, daughter of Augustus, called by him Julias. It was situated upon the banks of the sea of Galilee, called also the lake of Tiberias, and the lake of Gennesareth, which was about forty furlongs in breadth, and a hundred in length; and had a wilderness on the other side called the desert of Bethsaida, whither our Savior used often to retire.
“At this place was born Simon, surnamed Cephas, or Petros, Petrus, Peter, signifying a stone, or fragment of a rock. He was a fisherman upon the forementioned lake or sea, as was also in all probability his father Jonas, Jonah, or John. He had a brother named Andrew: which was the eldest of the two is not certain; for, concerning this, there were different opinions among the ancients. Epiphanius supposed Andrew to be the elder; but, according to Chrysostom, Peter was the first-born. So likewise Bede and Cassian, who even make Peter’s age the ground of his precedence among the apostles; and Jerome himself has expressed himself in like manner, saying, ‘that the keys were given to all the apostles alike, and the Church was built upon all of them equally; but, for preventing dissension, precedency was given to one. John might have been the person, but he was too young; and Peter was preferred on account of his age.’
“The call of Andrew and Peter to a stated attendance on Jesus is recorded in three evangelists. Their father Jonas seems to have been dead; for there is no mention of him, as there is of Zebedee, when his two sons were called. It is only said of Andrew and Peter that, when Jesus called them, they left their nets and followed him. Follow me, said he, and, I will make you fishers of men.
“Simon Peter was married when called by our Lord to attend upon him; and upon occasion of that alliance, it seems, had removed from Bethsaida to Capernaum, where was his wife’s family. Upon her mother our Savior wrought a great miracle of healing. And, I suppose, that when our Lord left Nazareth, and came and dwelled at Capernaum, he made Peter’s house the place of his usual abode when he was in those parts. I think we have a proof of it in the history just noticed. When Jesus came out of the synagogue at Capernaum, he entered into Simon’s house, Luke 4:38. Compare Mark 1:29, which is well paraphrased by Dr. Clarke: ‘Now when Jesus came out of the synagogue, he went home to Peter’s house;’ and there it was that the people resorted unto him.
“Some time after this, when our Lord had an opportunity of private conversation with the disciples, he inquired of them what men said of him; and then whom they thought him to be. ‘Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God;’ Mat. 16:13-16. So far likewise in Mark 8:27-29, and Luke 9:18-20. Then follows, in Mat. 16:17-19 : ‘And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona, for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven:’ that is, ‘it is not a partial affection for me, thy Master, nor a fond and inconsiderate regard for the judgments of others for whom thou hast a respect, that has induced thee to think thus of me; but it is a just persuasion formed in thy mind by observing the great works thou hast seen me do by the power of God in the confirmation of my mission and doctrine.’ ‘And I say unto thee, thou art Peter, and upon this rock will I build my Church - and I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven.’ By which many of our interpreters suppose that our Lord promised to Peter that he should have the honor of beginning to preach the Gospel after his resurrection to Jews and Gentiles, and of receiving them into the Church; if so that is personal. [There is a play on words in Mt. 16:16, with “this rock” referring to the subject of Peter's confession. Nowhere is Peter called the foundation upon which the church is built, but that Christ is the rock and stone and foundation of the church is one of the most abundantly confirmed doctrines of the Bible (petra: Rm. 9:33; 1Cor. 10:4; 1Pet. 2:8; cf. Lk. 6:48; 1Cor. 3:11; lithos: Mat. 21:42; Mk.12:10-11; Lk. 20:17-18; Acts 4:11; Rm. 9:33; Eph. 2:20; cf. Dt. 32:4, Is. 28:16) including by Peter himself. (1Pt. 2:4-8). However, Peter was the brethren-type leader of the apostles and early church, but no provision for a successor is manifest, nor for the martyred John, (Acts 12:1) unlike Judas, who was replaced to maintain the number of the original apostles, and which method was by prayerful casting of lots, thus excluding politics. Nor is there any promise of formulaic infallibility, which Rome has “infallibly” defined she possesses.] Nevertheless, what follows, ‘And whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, shall be loosed in heaven;’ this, I say, must have been the privilege of all the apostles, for the like things are expressly said to them, Luke 22:29, Luke 22:30, Jn. 20:21-23. Moreover, all the apostles concurred with Peter in the first preaching both to Jews and Gentiles. As he was president in the college of the apostles, it was very fit, and a thing of course, that he should be primarily concerned in the first opening of things. The confession now particularly before us was made by him; but it was in answer to a question that had been put to all; and he spoke the sense of all the apostles, and in their name. I suppose this to be as true in this instance, as in the other before mentioned, which is in Jn. 6:68, Jn. 6:69. In the account which St. John has given us of our Savior’s washing the disciples’ feet, Peter’s modesty and fervor are conspicuous. When the Jewish officers were about to apprehend our Lord, ‘Peter, having a sword, drew it, and smote a servant of the high priest, and cut of his right ear.’ Our Lord having checked Peter, touched the servant’s ear, and healed him. So great is Jesus everywhere! They that laid hold of Jesus led him away to the house of Caiaphas; the rest of the disciples now forsook him and fled; ‘but Peter followed him afar off, unto the high priest’s palace; and went in and sat with the servants to see the end.’ Here Peter thrice disowned his Lord, peremptorily denying that he was one of the disciples, or had any knowledge of him, as related by all the evangelists; for which he soon after humbled himself, and wept bitterly. We do not perceive that Peter followed our Lord any farther; or that he at all attended the crucifixion. It is likely that he was under too much concern of mind to appear in public; and that he chose retirement, as most suitable to his present temper and circumstances.
“On the first day of the week, early in the morning, when Mary Magdalene and other women came to the sepulcher, bringing sweet spices which they had prepared, ‘they saw an angel, who said unto them, Be not affrighted; ye seek Jesus who was crucified: he is not here, for he is risen: Go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead.’ As in Matthew, ‘Tell his disciples and Peter.’ As in Mark, ‘Behold he goeth before you into Galilee.’ That was a most gracious disposal of Providence to support the disciples, Peter in particular, in their great affliction.
“Our Lord first showed himself to Mary Magdalene, and afterwards to some other women. On the same day likewise on which he arose from the dead, he showed himself to Peter, though the circumstances of this appearance are nowhere related. And it has been observed, that as Mary Magdalene was the first woman, so Peter was the first man, to whom Jesus showed himself after he was risen from the dead.
“We have nowhere any distinct account of this apostle’s travels: he might return to Judea, and stay there a good while after having been at Antioch, at the time spoken of by St. Paul in the Epistle to the Galatians. However, it appears from Epiphanius that Peter was often in the countries of Pontus and Bithynia; and by Eusebius we are assured that Origen, in the third tome of his Exposition of the Book of Genesis, writes to this purpose: ‘Peter is supposed to have preached to the Jews of the dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Bithynia, Cappadocia, and Asia; who, at length coming to Rome, was crucified with his head downwards, himself having desired it might be in that manner.’ For the time of Peter’s coming to Rome, no ancient writer is now more regarded by learned moderns than Lactantius, or whoever is the author of the book of the Deaths of Persecutors; who says that Peter came thither in the time of Nero. However, it appears to me very probable that St. Peter did not come to Rome before the year of Christ 63 or 64, nor till after St. Paul’s departure thence at the end of his two years’ imprisonment in that city. The books of the New Testament afford a very plausible, if not certain, argument for it. After our Lord’s ascension we find Peter, with the rest of the apostles, at Jerusalem. He and John were sent by the apostles from Jerusalem to Samaria, whence they returned to Jerusalem. When Paul came to Jerusalem, three years after his conversion, he found Peter there. Upon occasion of the tranquility of the Churches in Judea, Galilee, and Samaria, near the end of the reign of Caligula, Peter left Jerusalem, and visited the Churches in several parts of that country, particularly at Lydda and Joppa, where he tarried many days. Thence he went to Caesarea, by the seaside, where he preached to Cornelius and his company. Thence he returned to Jerusalem, and sometime afterwards was imprisoned there by Herod Agrippa. This brings down the history of our apostle to the year 44. A few years after this he was present at the council of Jerusalem; nor is there any evidence that he came there merely on that occasion. It is more probable that he had not yet been out of Judea: soon after that council he was at Antioch, where he was reproved by St. Paul.
“The books of the New Testament afford no light for determining where Peter was for several years after that. But to me it appears not unlikely that he returned after a short time to Judea from Antioch, and that he stayed in Judea a good while before he went thence any more; and it seems to me that, when he left Judea, he went again to Antioch, the chief city of Syria. Thence he might go to other parts of the continent, particularly Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, which are expressly mentioned in the beginning of his first epistle. In those countries he might stay a good while; and it is very likely that he did so; and that he was well acquainted with the Christians there, to whom he afterwards wrote two epistles. When he left those parts, I think he went to Rome, but not till after Paul had been in that city and was gone from it. Several of St. Paul’s epistles furnish out a cogent argument of Peter’s absence from Rome for a considerable space of time. St. Paul, in the last chapter of his Epistle to the Romans, written, as we suppose, in the beginning of the year 58, salutes many by name, without mentioning Peter; and the whole tenor of the epistle makes it reasonable to think that the Christians there had not yet had the benefit of the apostle’s presence and instructions. During his two years’ confinement at Rome, which ended, as we suppose, in the spring of the year 63, St. Paul wrote four or five epistles; those to the Ephesians, the Second Epistle to Timothy, to the Philippians, the Colossians, and Philemon; in none of which is any mention of Peter, nor is any thing said or hinted whence it can be concluded that he had ever been there. I think, therefore, that Peter did not come to Rome before the year 63, or perhaps 64. And, as I suppose, obtained the crown of martyrdom in the year 64 or 65; consequently, St. Peter could not reside very long at Rome before his death.
“Cave likewise, in his life of St. Peter, written in English in 1676, places his death in 64 or 65; nor was his mind much altered when he published his Historia Literaria in 1688; for there also he supposes that St. Peter died a martyr at Rome, in the year of Christ 64, at the beginning of Nero’s persecution; and indeed he expresses himself with a great deal of assurance and positiveness. Jerome concludes his article of St. Peter saying, ‘He was buried at Rome, in the Vatican, near the triumphal way; and is in veneration all over the world.’ “It is not needful to make any remarks upon this tradition; but it is easy to observe it is the general, uncontradicted, disinterested testimony of ancient writers, in the several parts of the world, Greeks, Latins, and Syrians. As our Lord’s prediction concerning the death of Peter is recorded in one of the four gospels, it is very likely that Christians would observe the accomplishment of it, which must have been in some place, and about this place there is no difference among Christian writers of ancient times; never any other place was named besides Rome; nor did any other city ever glory in the martyrdom of Peter. There were, in the second and third centuries, disputes between the bishop of Rome and other bishops and Churches about the time of keeping Easter, and about the baptism of heretics; yet none denied the bishop of Rome what they called the chair of Peter. It is not for our honor or interest, either as Christians or Protestants, to deny the truth of events ascertained by early and well attested tradition.
If any make an ill use of such facts, we are not accountable for it. We are not, from the dread of such abuses, to overthrow the credit of all history, the consequences of which would be fatal. Fables and fictions have been mixed with the account of Peter’s being at Rome; but they are not in the most early writers, but have been added since: and it is well known that fictions have been joined with histories of the most certain and important facts.1 Peter-1
“Having written the history of the Apostle Peter, I now proceed to his epistles; concerning which three or four things are to be considered by us; their genuineness, the persons to whom they were sent, the place where, and the time when, they were written.
“The first epistle was all along considered, by catholic Christians, as authentic and genuine; this we learn from Eusebius, who says: ‘Of the controverted books of the New Testament; yet well known and approved by many, are that called the Epistle of James, and that of Jude, and the second and third of John.’ And in another place, ‘One epistle of Peter, called the first, is universally received. This the presbyters of ancient times have quoted in their writings as undoubtedly genuine; but that called his second, we have been informed, (by tradition), has not been received as a part of the New Testament; nevertheless, appearing to many to be useful, it has been carefully studied with other scriptures.’ By which, I think, we may be assured that a great regard was shown to this epistle by many Christians in the time of our learned ecclesiastical historian. Jerome says, ‘Peter wrote two epistles called catholic, the second of which is denied by many to be his, because of the difference of the style from the former.’ And Origen before them, in his commentaries upon the gospel of St. Matthew, as cited by Eusebius, says, ‘Peter, on whom the Church is built, has left one epistle universally acknowledged: let it be granted that he also wrote a second, for this has been doubted.’ “What those learned writers of the third and fourth centuries say of those two epistles, we have found agreeable to the testimony of more ancient writers, whom we have consulted: for the first epistle seems to be referred to by Clement of Rome; it is plainly referred to by Polycarp several times; it is also referred to by the martyrs at Lyons; it was received by Theophilus, bishop of Antioch; it was quoted by Papias; it is quoted in the remaining writings of Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, and Tertullian: consequently it was all along received. But we do not perceive the second epistle to be quoted by Papias, nor by Irenaeus, (though in Grabe’s edition this epistle is twice quoted), nor Tertullian, nor Cyprian. However, both these epistles were generally received in the fourth and following centuries by all Christians, except the Syrians: for they were received by Athanasius, Cyril of Jerusalem, the council of Laodicea, Epiphanius, Jerome, Rufin, Augustine, and others. “The first epistle being allowed to be St. Peter’s, we can argue in favor of the other also, in this manner: It bears in the inscription the name of the same apostle; for so it begins, ‘Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ.’ And in 2Pe. 1:14 are these words: ‘Knowing that I must shortly put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ has showed me.’
“The writer of this epistle may have had a particular revelation concerning the time of his death, not long before writing this. But it is probable that here is a reference to our Lord’s prediction concerning St. Peter’s death, and the manner of it, which are recorded in Jn. 21:18, Jn. 21:19. From 2Pe. 1:16-18, it appears that the writer was one of the disciples who were with Jesus in the mount, when he was transfigured in a glorious manner. This certainly leads us to Peter, who was there, and whose name the epistle bears in the inscription, 2Pe. 3:1 : ‘This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance;’ plainly referring to the former epistle, which has been always acknowledged to be Peter’s. These words are express. But it might have been argued, with some degree of probability, from 2Pe. 1:12, 2Pe. 1:15, that he had before written to the same persons. Once more, 2Pe. 3:15, 2Pe. 3:16, he calls Paul brother, and otherwise so speaks of him and his epistles as must needs be reckoned most suitable to an apostle. The writer, therefore, is the Apostle Peter, whose name the epistle bears in the inscription. We are led here to the observation which Wall placed at the head of his notes upon this second epistle: ‘It is,’ says he, ‘a good proof of the cautiousness of the ancient Christians in receiving any book for canonical, that they not only rejected all those pieces forged by heretics under the name of apostles; but also if any good book, affirmed by some men or some Churches to have been written and sent by some apostle, were offered to them, they would not, till fully satisfied of the fact, receive it into their canon.’ He adds: ‘There is more hazard in denying this to be Peter’s, than in denying some other books to be of that author to whom they are by tradition ascribed. For they, if they be not of that apostle to whom they are imputed, yet may be of some other apostle, or apostolical man; but this author is either the apostle, or else by setting his name, and by other circumstances, he does designedly personate him, which no man of piety and truth would do.’ And then he concludes: ‘This epistle being written by him but a little before his death, 2Pe. 1:14, and perhaps no more than one sent, it might be a good while before a number of copies, well attested, came abroad to the generality of the Christian Churches.’
“Certainly these epistles, and the discourses of Peter, recorded in the Acts, together with the effects of them, are monuments of Divine inspiration, and of the fulfillment of the promise which Christ made to him, when he saw him and his brother Andrew employed in their trade, and casting a net into the sea; Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men, Mat. 4:19.
“Concerning the persons to whom these epistles were sent, there have been different opinions among both ancients and moderns. Mr. Wetstein argues from divers texts that the first epistle was sent to the Gentiles. Mr. Hallett, in his learned introduction to the Epistle to the Hebrews, observes, ‘Some go upon the supposition that St. Peter’s epistles were written to the Jews, but it seems to me more natural to suppose that they were written to Gentile Christians, if we consider many passages of the epistles themselves:’ where he proceeds to allege many passages, and in my opinion, very pertinently; some of which will be also alleged by me by and by.
“To me it seems that St. Peter’s epistles were sent to all Christians in general, Jews and Gentiles, living in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia; the greatest part of whom must have been converted by Paul, and had been before involved in ignorance and sin, as all people in general were till the manifestation of the Gospel of Christ. That St. Peter wrote to all Christians in those countries is apparent, from the valedictory blessing or wish at the end of the epistle, 1Pe. 5:14 : Peace be with you all that are in Christ Jesus. Lewis Capellus, who thought that St. Peter’s first epistle was written to Jewish believers, allows that the second epistle was written to all Christians in general, and particularly to Gentiles, induced thereto by the comprehensiveness of the address at the beginning of that epistle, To them that have obtained like precious faith with us. He should have concluded as much of the first epistle likewise, for they were both sent to the same people, as is evident from St. Peter’s own words, 2Pe. 3:1. Moreover, the inscription of the first epistle seems to be as general as that of the second. Let us observe it distinctly: to the elect, εκλεκτοις, says Wall upon the place: ‘He uses the word εκλεκτοι, choice ones, just as St. Paul does the word ἁγιοι, saints, for the word Christians: and as St. Paul directs almost all his epistles to the saints, that is, the Christians of such a place; so St. Peter here, to the elect or choice ones, that is, Christians, sojourning in the dispersions of Pontus, Galatia, and Bithynia. Strangers, παρεπιδημοις· good men, though at home, are strangers, especially if they meet with opposition, trouble, and affliction, as those Christians did to whom St. Peter is here writing; for he speaks of their trials and temptations, 1Pe. 1:6, 1Pe. 1:7, and exhorts them, 1Pe. 2:11, as sojourners and strangers, ὡς παροικους και παρεπιδημους, to abstain from fleshly lusts. Says Ecumenius upon 1Pe. 1:1, 1Pe. 1:2 : ‘He calls them strangers, either on account of their dispersion, or because all that live religiously are called strangers on this earth; as David also says, ‘I am a sojourner with thee, and a stranger, as all my fathers were,’ Psa. 39:12. Scattered throughout Pontus, or of the dispersion of Pontus, Galatia; so he calls them, not because they had been driven out from their native country, but because he writes to the Christians of divers countries, who also were but a few or a small number in every place where they dwelt. I shall now show that these Christians were, for the most part, of the Gentile stock and original. 1Pe. 1:14 : ‘As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance.’ This might be very pertinently said to men converted from Gentilism to Christianity; but no such thing is ever said by the apostle concerning the Jewish people, who had been favored with Divine revelation, and had the knowledge of the true God. And 1Pe. 1:20, 1Pe. 1:21, he says, that ‘through Christ they did now believe in God;’ therefore they were not worshippers till they were acquainted with the Christian revelation. In like manner, 1Pe. 2:9, St. Peter speaks of those to whom he writes as having been ‘called out of darkness into God’s marvelous light.’ Moreover, they were not once God’s people; 1Pe. 2:10 : ‘Which in times past were not a people, but are now the people of God; which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.’ Words resembling those of St. Paul, Rom. 9:24, Rom. 9:25, where he is unquestionably speaking of Gentile converts. There are also other expressions which plainly show that these persons had been Gentiles, and had lived in the sins of Gentilism; 1Pe. 1:18 : ‘Forasmuch as ye know that ye were redeemed from your vain conversation, received by tradition from your fathers.’ And 1Pe. 4:3 : ‘For the time past may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles; when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries.’ St. Peter does not charge himself with such things, but they to whom he writes had been guilty in those respects; and, by way of condescension, and for avoiding offense, and for rendering his argument more effectual, he joins himself with them. And more, when St. Peter represents the dignity of those to whom he writes, upon account of their Christian vocation, 1Pe. 2:9, as ‘a chosen generation, a peculiar people, a royal priesthood;’ certainly the expressions are most pertinent and emphatical, if understood of such as had been brought from Gentilism to the faith of the Gospel, as indeed they plainly were. For he there says, ‘they were to show forth the praises of Him who had called them out of darkness into his marvelous light.’ To all which might be added, what was hinted before, that the persons to whom Peter writes were for the most part the Apostle Paul’s converts. This must be reckoned probable from the accounts which we have in the Acts of St. Paul’s travels and preaching. Whence we know that he had been in Galatia, and the other countries mentioned by St. Peter at the beginning of his first epistle. Moreover he observes, 2Pe. 3:15, that ‘his beloved brother Paul had written unto them.’ We may reasonably suppose that he thereby intends St. Paul’s Epistles to the Galatians, the Ephesians, and Colossians, all in those countries, and for the most part Gentile believers. Nor do I see reason to doubt that if Peter had, before now, seen and read St. Paul’s Epistles to Timothy; and if we should add them, as here intended also, it would be no prejudice to our argument. For those epistles likewise were designed for the use and benefit of the Churches in those parts. To me these considerations appear unanswerable; I shall, therefore, take notice of but one objection, which is grounded upon 1Pe. 2:12 : ‘Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles; that whereas they speak against you as evil doers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.’ Upon the first clause in that verse Beza says, that this place alone is sufficient to show that this epistle was sent to Jews. But I think not. From St. Paul may be alleged a text of the like sort, 1Co. 11:32 : ‘Give no offense, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, (και Ἑλλησι), nor to the Church of God.’ It might be as well argued from that text that the Corinthians were by descent neither Jews nor Greeks, as from this, that the persons to whom St. Peter wrote were not originally Gentiles. In the text of St. Paul just quoted, by Jews, and Gentiles or Greeks, are intended such as were unbelievers. So it is likewise in the text of St. Peter which we are considering as is apparent from the latter part of the verse above transcribed at large. St. Peter had a right to distinguish those to whom he writes from the Gentile people among whom they lived, as he had at the beginning of the epistle called them elect, or choice ones, and strangers; and they likewise went by the name of Christians, as we perceive from 1Pe. 4:16.
“St. Peter’s two epistles, then, were sent to all Christians in general, living in those countries, the greatest part of whom had been converted from Gentilism or heathenism.
“Our next inquiry is concerning where these epistles were written.
“At the end of the first epistle St. Peter says: ‘The Church that is at Babylon, elected together with you, saluteth you;’ which text, understood literally, has been thought by some to denote,
1. Babylon in Assyria; or,
2. Babylon in Egypt.
3. By others it is interpreted figuratively, and is supposed to denote Jerusalem; or,
4. Rome. So that there are four opinions concerning the place where this epistle was written.
“If St. Peter had read St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans before he wrote his first epistle, it was written after St. Paul’s journey from Corinth to Jerusalem, described in Acts 20, 21; for the Epistle to the Romans was written from Corinth. How much later than the time of this journey the First Epistle of Peter was written it is very difficult, for want of sufficient data, to determine. The epistle itself has hardly any marks which can guide us in deciding the year of its composition; and we know nothing of the history of St. Peter from the time of the apostolic council at Jerusalem, Acts 15., which is the last place where St. Luke mentions him, till his arrival many years afterwards at Rome, where, according to the accounts of ecclesiastical writers, he suffered martyrdom. However, a comparison of the first with the second epistle of St. Peter will enable us to form at least an opinion on this subject. St. Peter says, in his second epistle, 2Pe. 3:1 : Ταυτην ηδη, αγαπητοι, δευτεραν ὑμιν γραφω επιστολην· whence we may conclude that his first epistle was written to the same persons as the second. But if the second epistle was written fifteen or twenty years after the first, they who received the one were not the same persons as they who received the other; and we might rather expect that in this case St. Peter would have called his first epistle an epistle which he had written to their fathers. It appears, then, that the interval between the dates of the two epistles could not have been very long; and as the second epistle was written shortly before St. Peter’s death; we may infer that the first epistle was written either not long before, or not long after, the year 60. On the other hand, Lardner assigns this epistle too late a date; for he is of opinion that it was written between 63 and 65. This reason for supposing that it was not written till after 63 is, that an earlier date cannot be assigned for St. Peter’s arrival at Rome; and as he takes the word Babylon, whence St. Peter dates his epistle, not in its proper but in a mystical sense, as denoting Rome, he concludes that the epistle was not written before the time above mentioned. But if we take Babylon in its proper sense, the argument not only proves not what Lardner intended, but the very reverse; for if St. Peter’s arrival in Rome is to be dated about the year 63, an epistle written by St. Peter, in Babylon, must have a date prior to that year.
“St. Peter, in the close of his epistle, sends a salutation from the Church in Babylon, which, consequently, is the place where he wrote his epistle. But commentators do not agree in regard to the meaning of the word Babylon, some taking it in its literal and proper sense, others giving it a figurative and mystical interpretation. Among the advocates for the latter sense have been men of such learning and abilities, that I was misled by their authority in the younger part of my life to subscribe to it; but at present, as I have more impartially examined the question, it appears to me very extraordinary that, when an apostle dates his epistle from Babylon, it should ever occur to any commentator to ascribe to this work a mystical meaning, instead of taking it in its literal and proper sense. For, in the first century, the ancient Babylon, on the Euphrates, was still in existence; and there was likewise a city on the Tigris, Seleucia, not far distant from the ancient Babylon, to which the name of modern Babylon was given; but through some mistake it has been supposed that the ancient Babylon, in the time of St. Peter, was no longer in being; and in order to furnish a pretense for a mystical interpretation, it has been denied that Seleucia was ever so called.
“It is true that the ancient Babylon, in comparison of its original splendor, might be called in the first century a desolated city; yet it was not wholly a heap of ruins, nor wholly destitute of inhabitants. This appears from the account which Strabo, who lived in the time of Tiberius, has given of it: for he says that Alexander (who died at Babylon, and who intended, if he had lived, to have made it the place of his residence) proposed to rebuild there a pyramid, which was a stadium in length, in breadth, and in height; but that his successors did not put the design into execution: that the Persians destroyed a part of Babylon, and that the Macedonians neglected it; but that Babylon had suffered the most from the building of Seleucia, by Seleucus Nicator, at the distance of three hundred stadia from it, because Seleucia then became the capital of the country, and Babylon was drained of its inhabitants. Strabo then adds: at present Seleucia is greater than Babylon, which last city has been desolated, so that one may say of it, what the comic poet said of Megalopolis in Arcadia: ‘A great city is become a great desert.’ If this be not sufficient proof that Babylon was still in existence in the first century, the reader may consult Cellarii Geographia, tom. ii., page 747; and Assemani Bibliotheca Orientalis, tom. iii., par. ii., page 7.
“It will be objected, perhaps, that if Babylon still existed in the time of St. Peter, it was yet in such a state of decay that an apostle would hardly have gone to preach the Gospel there. But I can see no reason why he should not; especially as Babylon was at that time so far from being literally destitute of inhabitants that Strabo draws a parallel between this city and Seleucia, saying, at present Babylon is not so great as Seleucia, which was then the capital of the Parthian empire, and, according to Pliny, contained six hundred thousand inhabitants. To conclude therefore that Babylon, whence St. Peter dates this epistle, could not have been the ancient Babylon, because this city was then in a state of decay; and thence to argue that St. Peter used the word mystically to denote Rome, is nearly the same as if, on the receipt of a letter dated from Ghent or Antwerp, in which mention was made of a Christian community there, I concluded that, because these cities are no larger than what they were in the sixteenth century, the writer of the epistle meant a spiritual Ghent or Antwerp, and that the epistle was really written from Amsterdam.
“It is, therefore, at least possible that St. Peter wrote his first epistle in the ancient Babylon, on the Euphrates. But before we conclude that he really did write there, we must first examine whether he did not mean Seleucia on the Tigris, which was sometimes called the modern Babylon. According to Strabo, Seleucia was only three hundred stadia distant from the ancient Babylon; and it was separated by the Tigris from Ctesiphon, the winter residence of the Parthian kings. At present it is not called Bagdad, as some have supposed, which is a very different city; but, in conjunction with Ctesiphon, is named by Syrian and Arabic writers Medinotho, Medain, Madain, under which name it appears in D’Anville’s maps in the latitude of 33° 7´.
“Since then, the name of Babylon was given actually to Seleucia, it is not impossible that St. Peter thus understood the word Babylon, and that his first epistle therefore was written at Seleucia on the Tigris. But I have shown in the preceding part of this section that there is likewise a possibility of its having been written in Babylon, properly so called, or in the ancient Babylon on the Euphrates. The question therefore is, which of these two senses shall we ascribe to the word Babylon? For one of these two we must ascribe to it, unless we give it, without any reason, a mystical interpretation. In the two last editions of this introduction I preferred the former sense; but after a more mature consideration, I think it much more probable, at present, that St. Peter meant the ancient Babylon. It is true that Lucan, Sidonius Apollinaris, and Stephanus Byzantinus, gave the name of Babylon to Seleucia; but the two last of these writers lived so late as the fifth century; and therefore their authority is perhaps not sufficient to prove that Seleucia was called Babylon in the first century. Lucan, indeed, was a contemporary with St. Peter; but then he uses this word in an epic poem, in which a writer is not bound by the same rules as in prose: and it is not improbable that he selected the word Babylon, because, partly, its celebrity added pomp to his diction; and, partly, because neither Ctesiphon nor Seleucia would have suited the verse. The writer of an epistle, on the contrary, can allow himself no such latitude; and perspicuity requires that in the date of his epistle, he should use no other name for the town where he writes than that which properly belongs to it. If, therefore, St. Peter had really written at Seleucia, he would have hardly called this city by the name of Babylon, though this name was sometimes applied to it: consequently, it is most probable that St. Peter wrote his first epistle in ancient Babylon on the Euphrates.
“Before I conclude this section, I must take notice of a passage in Josephus, which not only confutes all notions of a spiritual or mystical Babylon, but throws a great light on our present inquiry; and this passage is of so much the more importance, because Josephus was a historian who lived in the same age with St. Peter; and the passage itself relates to an event which took place thirty-six years before the Christian era, namely, the delivery of Hyrcanus, the Jewish high priest, from imprisonment, by order of Phraates, king of Parthia, with permission to reside in Babylon, where there was a considerable number of Jews. This is recorded by Josephus, Antiq. xv. c. 2, in the following words: Δια τουτο δεσμων μεν αφηκεν, εν Βαβυλωνι δε καταγεσθαι παρειχεν, ενθα και πληθος ην Ιουδαιων. Josephus then adds, that both the Jews in Babylon, and all who dwelt in that country, as far as the Euphrates, respected Hyrcanus, as high priest and king. Now the word Babylon in this passage of Josephus evidently means a city in the east; and it cannot possibly be interpreted in a mystical manner either of Jerusalem or Rome. The only question is, whether he meant the ancient Babylon on the Euphrates, or Seleucia on the Tigris. The former is the most obvious interpretation; and is warranted by the circumstance that, in other places where Josephus speaks of Seleucia on the Tigris, he calls it by its proper name Seleucia.
“The first argument in favor of a mystical and against a literal interpretation of the word Babylon is, that in the whole country of Babylonia there were no Jews in the time of St. Peter; and thence it is inferred that he could not have gone to preach the Gospel there. Now in this argument both the premises and inference are false. The inference is false, because even if there had been no Jews in the whole country of Babylonia, St. Peter might have gone to preach the Gospel there; for he preached to the uncircumcised at Caesarea, and he himself declared that it was ordained by God that the Gentiles, by his mouth, should hear the word of the Gospel and believe. The premises themselves are also totally unfounded; for if we except Palestine, there was no country in the world where the Jews were so numerous and so powerful as in the province of Babylonia, in which they had their two celebrated seats of learning, Nehardea and Susa.
“The second argument in favor of a mystical interpretation of the word Babylon is, that almost all the ancient fathers have explained it in this manner, and have asserted that St. Peter used it to denote Rome. But we must recollect that an assertion of this kind is not testimony to a fact, but a mere matter of opinion, in which the ancients were as liable to mistake as we are. Nor is it true that all the ancient ecclesiastical writers have ascribed to the word Babylon a mystical meaning; for though the Greek and Latin fathers commonly understood Rome, yet the Syriac and Arabic writers understood it literally, as denoting a town in the east; and if we are to be guided by opinion, an oriental writer is surely as good authority, on the present question, as a European.
“The third argument on which Lardner particularly insists is, that, in the accounts which we have on record relative to St. Peter’s history, no mention is made of a journey to Babylon. Now this argument would prove nothing, even if our knowledge of St. Peter’s life and transactions were more perfect than it really is. Let us suppose an instance of some eminent man in modern times, in the history of whose life no mention is made that, during his travels, he paid a visit to Vienna, but that among his letters to his friends, one of them, not withstanding the silence of his biographer, is dated from Vienna. In this case, unless we had reason to suppose that the whole epistle was a forgery, or that the author had used a false date, we should immediately conclude, on the bare authority of this single epistle, that he had actually been at Vienna; and we should hardly think of a mystical or spiritual Vienna. Lardner himself has argued in this very manner with respect to Paul, though his history is infinitely better known than that of St. Peter, and has inferred from the single passage, Tit. 1:5, ‘For this cause left I thee in Crete,’ that St. Paul made a voyage into Crete in the year 56, though this voyage is mentioned neither by St. Luke nor by any other historian. No reason therefore can be assigned why we should refuse to argue in the same manner with respect to St. Peter. In fact, Lardner’s argument could nowhere have been more unfortunately applied than in the present instance.
“From the time of the apostolic council at Jerusalem, in the year 49, at which St. Peter was present, till the time of his (supposed) arrival in Rome, which Lardner acknowledges was not before 63, there is an interval of fourteen years, during which we have no history of him whatsoever. How then can we form a judgment of his transactions during that period except from his own writings? And how can the silence of history, in respect to his journey to Babylon, afford an argument that he was never there, in contradiction to his own epistle, when the fact is, we have no history at all of St. Peter during this period? We cannot therefore talk of its silence in respect to any one particular transaction, since every transaction of St. Peter, throughout the whole of this interval, is unrecorded. Lardner indeed conjectures, as the epistle is addressed to the inhabitants of Pontus, Galatia, Ac., that St. Peter spent a part of his time in these countries, though he denies that St. Peter ever was in Babylon, whence the epistle is dated. Now this mode of arguing is nearly the same as if I concluded, from a letter dated from Vienna, and addressed to a person in Venice, that the writer of that letter had been in Venice, but that he never was at Vienna. Lardner supposes also that St. Peter spent a part of this time in Jerusalem. Now it is impossible for us to determine what stay St. Peter made in Jerusalem after the holding of the apostolic council, or whether he remained there at all; but this I think is certain, that he was not at Jerusalem when St. Paul returned thither for the last time, since St. Luke makes particular mention of St. James, and describes him as the head of the Christian community at Jerusalem, but says nothing of St. Peter, whom he would hardly have passed over in perfect silence if he had been there. Now St. Paul’s last visit to Jerusalem happened in the year 60, and since I have shown that the First Epistle of St. Peter was written about this time, it is not at all improbable that St. Peter, who was absent from Jerusalem, was then engaged in preaching the Gospel to the Babylonians.
“The last argument in favor of the opinion that the Babylon where Peter wrote was not Babylon properly so called, is derived from 1Pe. 2:13, where St. Peter commands obedience to the king, and from 1Pe. 2:17, where he says, ‘Honor the king.’ Hence Lardner concludes that St. Peter must have written in a place which was subject to the same king or emperor as the people to whom he sent the epistle. But these were subject to the Roman emperor, whereas Babylon, with its whole territory, was then subject, not to the Romans, but the Parthians, and therefore, according to Lardner, could not have been the place where St. Peter wrote. Now this argument rests on a supposition which is contradicted by the common usage of every language, the expression, ‘the king,’ in a letter from a person in one country to a person in another country, may, according to circumstances, denote the king to which the reader is subject as well as the king to which the writer is subject.
“It appears, then, that the arguments which have been alleged to show that St. Peter did not write his first epistle in the country of Babylonia are devoid of foundation, and consequently the notion of a mystical Babylon, as denoting either Jerusalem or Rome, loses its whole support. For in itself the notion is highly improbable, and therefore the bare possibility that St. Peter took a journey to Babylon, properly so called, renders it inadmissible. The plain language of epistolary writing does not admit of the figures of poetry, and, though it would be very allowable, in a poem written in honor of Gottingen, to style it another Athens, yet if a professor of this university should, in a letter written from Gottingen, date it Athens, it would be a greater piece of pedantry than ever was laid to the charge of the learned. In like manner, though a figurative use of the word Babylon is not unsuitable to the animated and poetical language of the Apocalypse, yet St. Peter, in a plain and unadorned epistle, would hardly have called the place where he wrote by any other appellation than that which literally and properly belonged to it.”
That many persons both of learning and eminence have been of a different opinion from Professor Michaelis, the intelligent reader is well aware, but Dr. Lardner, of all others, has written most argumentatively in vindication of the mystical Babylon, i.e. Rome, as being the place from which the apostle wrote this epistle. His weightiest arguments however are here answered by Michaelis, and to me it appears that there is a great balance in favor of the opinion that Babylon on the Euphrates is the place intended. The decision of this question, although not an article of faith, is nevertheless of some importance. I am still of opinion that St. Peter did not write from Rome; that he was neither bishop of Rome nor martyred at Rome, in a word, that he never saw Rome. — Clarke TOC
1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, Jas 1:1; 2 Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: 1Jn. 1:7-9; Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied. Heb 12:24; Rom 1:7; 1Cor 1:3; Gal 1:3; Eph 1:2; 2Pet 1:2; Jude 1:2;
3 Blessed [be] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 2Cor 1:3; Eph 1:3; Rom 6:23; Jas 1:18; 1Cor 15:20; 4 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Col 1:5; 2Tim 1:12; 5 Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
6 Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: Rom 5:3; Jas 1:2; Heb 10:37; 1Pet 5:10; 7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Isa 48:10; 1Cor 3:13; Jas 1:3; 1Pet 4:12; 8 Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see [him] not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: John 20:29; 9 Receiving the end of your faith, [even] the salvation of [your] souls.
10 Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace [that should come] unto you: Gen 49:10; Dan 2:44; Hag 2:7; Zech 6:12; 11 Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. Dan 9:24; Ps 22:6; Isa 53:3; 12 Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into. Acts 2:4; Eph 3:10;
13 Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; Luke 12:35; Eph 6:14; 14 As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: 15 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Luke 1:75; 16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. Lev 11:44-45; Lev 19:2; Lev 20:7; 17 And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning [here] in fear: Deut 10:17; 2Chr 19:7; Job 34:19; Acts 10:34; Rom 2:11; Gal 2:6; Eph 6:9; Col 3:25; 18 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, [as] silver and gold, from your vain conversation [received] by tradition from your fathers; 1Cor 6:20; 1Cor 7:23; 19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Acts 20:28; Heb 9:12; Rev 1:5; 20 Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, Rom 16:25; Eph 1:9; Eph 3:9; Col 1:26; 2Tim 1:9; Titus 1:2; 21 Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God. Acts 2:33; Phil 2:9; 22 Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, [see that ye] love one another with a pure heart fervently: Rom 12:10; Eph 4:3; Heb 13:1; 1Pet 2:17; 23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. Jas 1:18; 1John 3:9;
24 For all flesh [is] as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: Isa 40:6; 1Cor 7:31; Jas 1:10; Jas 4:14; 1John 2:17; 25 But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you. TOC
1 Peter 1 - Of the persons to whom this epistle was directed, and their spiritual state, 1Pe. 1:1, 1Pe. 1:2. He describes their privileges, and thanks God for the grace by which they were preserved faithful in trials and difficulties, 1Pe. 1:3-5. The spiritual benefit they were to receive out of their afflictions, 1Pe. 1:6, 1Pe. 1:7. Their love to Christ, 1Pe. 1:8. And the salvation they received through believing, 1Pe. 1:9. This salvation was predicted by the prophets, who only saw it afar off and had only a foretaste of it, 1Pe. 1:10-12. They should take encouragement, and be obedient and holy, 1Pe. 1:13-16. Thy should pray, and deeply consider the price at which they were purchased, that their faith and hope might be in God, 1Pe. 1:17-21. As their souls had been purified by obeying the truth through the Spirit, they should love each other with a pure and fervent love, 1Pe. 1:22, 1Pe. 1:23. The frailty of man, and the unchangeableness of God, 1Pe. 1:24, 1Pe. 1:25. — Clarke
1 Peter 1 - Of the persons to whom this epistle was directed, and their spiritual state, 1Pe. 1:1, 1Pe. 1:2. He describes their privileges, and thanks God for the grace by which they were preserved faithful in trials and difficulties, 1Pe. 1:3-5. The spiritual benefit they were to receive out of their afflictions, 1Pe. 1:6, 1Pe. 1:7. Their love to Christ, 1Pe. 1:8. And the salvation they received through believing, 1Pe. 1:9. This salvation was predicted by the prophets, who only saw it afar off and had only a foretaste of it, 1Pe. 1:10-12. They should take encouragement, and be obedient and holy, 1Pe. 1:13-16. Thy should pray, and deeply consider the price at which they were purchased, that their faith and hope might be in God, 1Pe. 1:17-21. As their souls had been purified by obeying the truth through the Spirit, they should love each other with a pure and fervent love, 1Pe. 1:22, 1Pe. 1:23. The frailty of man, and the unchangeableness of God, 1Pe. 1:24, 1Pe. 1:25. — Henry
1 Peter 1 -
This Epistle was evidently addressed to those who were passing through severe trials, and probably to those who were, at that time, enduring persecution, 1Pe. 1:6-7; 1Pe. 3:14; 1Pe. 4:1, 1Pe. 4:12-19. The main object of this chapter is to comfort them in their trials; to suggest such considerations as would enable them to bear them with the right spirit, and to show the sustaining, elevating, and purifying power of the gospel. In doing this, the apostle adverts to the following considerations:
(1) He reminds them that they were the elect of God; that they had been chosen according to his foreknowledge, by the sanctifying agency of the Holy Spirit, and in order that they might be obedient, 1Pe. 1:1-2.
(2) he reminds them of the lively hope to which they had been begotten, and of the inheritance that was reserved for them in heaven. That inheritance was incorruptible, and undefiled, and glorious; it would be certainly theirs, for they would be kept by the power of God unto it, though now they were subjected to severe trials, 1Pe. 1:3-6.
(3) even now they could rejoice in hope of that inheritance, 1Pe. 1:6 their trial was of great importance to themselves in order to test the genuineness of their piety 1Pe. 1:7, and in the midst of all their sufferings they could rejoice in the love of their unseen Saviour 1Pe. 1:8 and they would certainly obtain the great object for which they had believed - the salvation of their souls 1Pe. 1:9. By these considerations the apostle would reconcile them to their sufferings; for they would thus show the genuineness and value of Christian piety, and would be admitted at last to higher honor.
(4) the apostle proceeds, in order further to reconcile them to their sufferings, to say that the nature of the salvation which they would receive had been an object of earnest inquiry by the prophets. They had searched diligently to know precisely what the Spirit by which they were inspired meant by the revelations given to them, and they had understood that they ministered to the welfare of those who should come after them, 1Pe. 1:10-12. Those who thus suffered ought, therefore, to rejoice in a salvation which had been revealed to them in this manner; and in the fact that they had knowledge which had not been vouchsafed even to the prophets; and under these circumstances they ought to be willing to bear the trials which had been brought upon them by a religion so communicated to them.
(5) in view of these things, the apostle 1Pe. 1:13-17 exhorts them to be faithful and persevering to the end. In anticipation of what was to be revealed to them at the final day, they should be sober and obedient; and as he who had called them into his kingdom was holy, so it became them to be holy also.
(6) this consideration is enforced 1Pe. 1:18-21 by a reference to the price that was paid for their redemption. They should remember that they had been redeemed, not with silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ. He had been appointed from eternity to be their Redeemer; he had been manifested in those times for them; he had been raised from the dead for them, and their faith and hope were through him. For these reasons they ought to be steadfast in their attachment to him.
(7) the apostle enjoins on them the special duty of brotherly love, 1Pe. 1:22-23. They had purified their hearts by obeying the truth, and as they were all one family, they should love one another fervently. Thus, they would show to their enemies and persecutors the transforming nature of their religion, and furnish an impressive proof of its reality.
(8) to confirm all these views, the apostle reminds them that all flesh must soon die. The glory of man would fade away. Nothing would abide but the Word of the Lord. They themselves would soon die, and be released from their troubles, and they should be willing, therefore, to bear trials for a little time. The great and the rich, and those apparently more favored in this life, would soon disappear, and all the splendor of their condition would vanish; and they should not envy them, or repine at their own more tremble and painful lot, 1Pe. 1:24-25. The keenest sufferings here are brief, and the highest honors and splendors of life here soon vanish away; and our main solicitude should be for the eternal inheritance. Having the prospect of that, and building on the sure word of God, which abides forever, we need not shrink from the trials appointed to us here below. — Barnes
This epistle is addressed to believers in general, who are strangers in every city or country where they live, and are scattered through the nations. These are to ascribe their salvation to the electing love of the Father, the redemption of the Son, and the sanctification of the Holy Ghost; and so to give glory to one God in three Persons, into whose name they had been baptized. Hope, in the world's phrase, refers only to an uncertain good, for all worldly hopes are tottering, built upon sand, and the worldling's hopes of heaven are blind and groundless conjectures. But the hope of the sons of the living God is a living hope; not only as to its object, but as to its effect also. It enlivens and comforts in all distresses, enables to meet and get over all difficulties. Mercy is the spring of all this; yea, great mercy and manifold mercy. And this well-grounded hope of salvation, is an active and living principle of obedience in the soul of the believer. The matter of a Christian's joy, is the remembrance of the happiness laid up for him. It is incorruptible, it cannot come to nothing, it is an estate that cannot be spent. Also undefiled; this signifies its purity and perfection. And it fadeth not; is not sometimes more or less pleasant, but ever the same, still like itself. All possessions here are stained with defects and failings; still something is wanting: fair houses have sad cares flying about the gilded and ceiled roofs; soft beds and full tables, are often with sick bodies and uneasy stomachs. All possessions are stained with sin, either in getting or in using them. How ready we are to turn the things we possess into occasions and instruments of sin, and to think there is no liberty or delight in their use, without abusing them! Worldly possessions are uncertain and soon pass away, like the flowers and plants of the field. That must be of the greatest worth, which is laid up in the highest and best place, in heaven. Happy are those whose hearts the Holy Spirit sets on this inheritance. God not only gives his people grace, but preserves them unto glory. Every believer has always something wherein he may greatly rejoice; it should show itself in the countenance and conduct. The Lord does not willingly afflict, yet his wise love often appoints sharp trials, to show his people their hearts, and to do them good at the latter end. Gold does not increase by trial in the fire, it becomes less; but faith is made firm, and multiplied, by troubles and afflictions. Gold must perish at last, and can only purchase perishing things, while the trial of faith will be found to praise, and honour, and glory. Let this reconcile us to present afflictions. Seek then to believe Christ's excellence in himself, and his love to us; this will kindle such a fire in the heart as will make it rise up in a sacrifice of love to him. And the glory of God and our own happiness are so united, that if we sincerely seek the one now, we shall attain the other when the soul shall no more be subject to evil. The certainty of this hope is as if believers had already received it.
Holy confidence in God as a Father, and awful fear of him as a Judge, agree together; and to regard God always as a Judge, makes him dear to us as a Father. If believers do evil, God will visit them with corrections. Then, let Christians not doubt God's faithfulness to his promises, nor give way to enslaving dread of his wrath, but let them reverence his holiness. The fearless professor is defenceless, and Satan takes him captive at his will; the desponding professor has no heart to avail himself of his advantages, and is easily brought to surrender. The price paid for man's redemption was the precious blood of Christ. Not only openly wicked, but unprofitable conversation is highly dangerous, though it may plead custom. It is folly to resolve, I will live and die in such a way, because my forefathers did so. God had purposes of special favour toward his people, long before he made manifest such grace unto them. But the clearness of light, the supports of faith, the power of ordinances, are all much greater since Christ came upon earth, than they were before. The comfort is, that being by faith made one with Christ, his present glory is an assurance that where he is we shall be also, Jn. 14:3. The soul must be purified, before it can give up its own desires and indulgences. And the word of God planted in the heart by the Holy Ghost, is a means of spiritual life, stirring up to our duty, working a total change in the dispositions and affections of the soul, till it brings to eternal life. In contrast with the excellence of the renewed spiritual man, as born again, observe the vanity of the natural man. In his life, and in his fall, he is like grass, the flower of grass, which soon withers and dies away. We should hear, and thus receive and love, the holy, living word, and rather hazard all than lose it; and we must banish all other things from the place due to it. We should lodge it in our hearts as our only treasures here, and the certain pledge of the treasure of glory laid up for believers in heaven. — MHCC
In this inscription we have three parts: -
I. The author of it, described, 1. By his name - Peter. His first name was Simon, and Jesus Christ gave him the surname of Peter, which signifies a rock, as a commendation of his faith, and to denote that he should be an eminent pillar in the church of God, Gal. 2:9. 2. By his office - an apostle of Jesus Christ. The word signifies one sent, a legate, a messenger, any one sent in Christ's name and about his work; but more strictly it signifies the highest office in the Christian church. 1Co. 12:28, God hath set some in the church, first apostles. Their dignity and pre-eminence lay in these things: - They were immediately chosen by Christ himself, - they were first witnesses, then preachers, of the resurrection of Christ, and so of the entire gospel-dispensation, - their gifts were excellent and extraordinary, - they had a power of working miracles, not at all times, but when Christ pleased, - they were led into all truth, were endowed with the spirit of prophecy, and they had an extent of power and jurisdiction beyond all others; every apostle was a universal bishop in all churches, and over all ministers. In this humble manner Peter, (1.) Asserts his own character as an apostle. Hence learn, A man may lawfully acknowledge, and sometimes is bound to assert, the gifts and graces of God to him. To pretend to what we have not is hypocrisy; and to deny what we have is ingratitude. (2.) He mentions his apostolical function as his warrant and call to write this epistle to these people. Note, It concerns all, but especially ministers, to consider well their warrant and call from God to their work. This will justify them to others, and give them inward support and comfort under all dangers and discouragements.
II. The persons to whom this epistle was addressed, and they are described,
1. By their external condition - Strangers dispersed throughout Pontus, Galatia, etc. They were chiefly Jews, descended (as Dr. Prideaux thinks) from those Jews who were translated from Babylon, by order of Antiochus king of Syria, about two hundred years before the coming of Christ, and placed in the cities of Asia Minor. It is very likely that our apostle had been among them, and converted them, being the apostle of the circumcision, and that he afterwards wrote this epistle to them from Babylon, where multitudes of the Jewish nation then resided. At present, their circumstances were poor and afflicted. (1.) The best of God's servants may, through the hardships of times and providences, be dispersed about, and forced to leave their native countries. Those of whom the world was not worthy have been forced to wander in mountains, in dens and caves of the earth. (2.) We ought to have a special regard to the dispersed persecuted servants of God. These were the objects of this apostle's particular care and compassion. We should proportion our regard to the excellency and to the necessity of the saints. (3.) The value of good people ought not to be estimated by their present external condition. Here was a set of excellent people, beloved of God, and yet strangers, dispersed and poor in the world; the eye of God was upon them in all their dispersions, and the apostle was tenderly careful to write to them for their direction and consolation.
2. They are described by their spiritual condition: Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, etc. These poor strangers, who were oppressed and despised in the world, were nevertheless in high esteem with the great God, and in the most honourable state that any person can be in during this life; for they were,
(1.) Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father. Election is either to an office: so Saul was the man whom the Lord chose to be king (1Sa. 10:24), and our Lord says to his apostles, Have not I chosen you twelve? (Jn. 6:70); or it is to a church-state, for the enjoyment of special privileges: thus Israel was God's elect (Dt. 7:6), For thou art a holy people unto the Lord thy God; the Lord thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself above all people that are upon the face of the earth; or it is to eternal salvation: God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth. This is the election here spoken of, importing God's gracious decree or resolution to save some, and bring them, through Christ, by proper means, to eternal life. [1.] This election is said to be according to the foreknowledge of God. Foreknowledge may be taken in two ways: - First, for mere prescience, foresight, or understanding, that such a thing will be, before it comes to pass. Thus a mathematician certainly foreknows that at such a time there will be an eclipse. This sort of foreknowledge is in God, who at one commanding view sees all things that ever were, or are, or ever will be. But such a prescience is not the cause why any thing is so or so, though in the event it certainly will be so, as the mathematician who foresees an eclipse does not thereby cause that eclipse to be. Secondly, Foreknowledge sometimes signifies counsel, appointment, and approbation. Acts 2:23, Him being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God. The death of Christ was not only foreseen, but fore-ordained, as 1Pe. 1:20. Take it thus here; so the sense is, elect according to the counsel, ordination, and free grace of God. [2.] It is added, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father. By the Father we are here to understand the first person of the blessed Trinity. There is an order among the three persons, though no superiority; they are equal in power and glory, and there is an agreed economy in their works. Thus, in the affair of man's redemption, election is by way of eminency ascribed to the Father, as reconciliation is to the Son and sanctification to the Holy Ghost, though in each of these one person is not so entirely interested as to exclude the other two. Hereby the persons of the Trinity are more clearly discovered to us, and we are taught what obligations we are under to each of them distinctly.
(2.) They were elect through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience, and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ. The end and last result of election is eternal life and salvation; but, before this can be accomplished, every elect person must be sanctified by the Spirit, and justified by the blood of Jesus. God's decree for man's salvation always operates through sanctification of the Spirit and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus. By sanctification here understand, not a federal sanctification only, but a real one, begun in regeneration, whereby we are renewed after the image of God and made new creatures, and carried on in the daily exercise of holiness, mortifying our sins more and more, and living to God in all the duties of a Christian life, which is here summed up in one word, obedience, comprehending all the duties of Christianity. By the Spirit some would have the apostle to mean the spirit of man, the subject sanctified. The legal or typical sanctification operated no further than the purifying of the flesh, but the Christian dispensation takes effect upon the spirit of man, and purifies that. Others, with better reason, think that by spirit is meant the Holy Ghost, the author of sanctification. He renews the mind, mortifies our sins (Rom. 8:13), and produces his excellent fruits in the hearts of Christians, Gal. 5:22, Gal. 5:23. This sanctification of the Spirit implies the use of means. Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth, Jn. 17:17. Unto obedience. This word, as it is pointed in our translation, is referred to what goes before it, and denotes the end of sanctification, which is, to bring rebellious sinners to obedience again, to universal obedience, to obey the truth and gospel of Christ: You have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit, 1Pe. 1:22.
(3.) They were elected also to the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus. They were designed by God's decree to be sanctified by the Spirit, and to be purified by the merit and blood of Christ. Here is a manifest allusion to the typical sprinklings of blood under the law, which language these Jewish converts understood very well. The blood of the sacrifices must not only be shed but sprinkled, to denote that the benefits designed thereby are applied and imputed to the offerers. Thus the blood of Christ, the grand and all-sufficient sacrifice, typified by the legal sacrifices, was not only shed, but must be sprinkled and communicated to every one of these elect Christians, that through faith in his blood they may obtain remission of sin, Rom. 3:25. This blood of sprinkling justifies before God (Rom. 5:9), seals the covenant between God and us, of which the Lord's supper is a sign (Luke 22:20), cleanses from all sin (1Jo. 1:7), and admits us into heaven, Heb. 10:19. Note, [1.] God hath elected some to eternal life, some, not all; persons, not qualification. [2.] All that are chosen to eternal life as the end are chosen to obedience as the way. [3.] Unless a person be sanctified by the Spirit, and sprinkled with the blood of Jesus, there will be no true obedience in the life. [4.] There is a consent and co-operation of all the persons of the Trinity in the affair of man's salvation, and their acts are commensurate one to another: whoever the Father elects the Spirit sanctifies unto obedience, and the Son redeems and sprinkles with his blood. [5.] The doctrine of the Trinity lies at the foundation of all revealed religion. If you deny the proper deity of the Son and Holy Spirit, you invalidate the redemption of the one and the gracious operations of the other, and by this means destroy the foundation of your own safety and comfort.
III. The salutation follows: Grace unto you, and peace be multiplied. The blessings desired for them are grace and peace. 1. Grace - the free favour of God, with all its proper effects, pardoning, healing, assisting, and saving. 2. Peace. All sorts of peace may be here intended, domestic, civil, ecclesiastical peace in the church, and spiritual peace with God, with the feeling of it in our own consciences. 3. here is the request or prayer, in relations to these blessings - that they may be multiplied, which implies that they were already possessed in some degree of these blessings, and he wishes them the continuation, the increase, and the perfection of them. Learn, (1.) Those who possess spiritual blessings in their own souls earnestly desire the communication of the same to others. The grace of God is a generous, not a selfish principle. (2.) The best blessings we can desire for ourselves, or one for another, are grace and peace, with the multiplication of them; therefore the apostles so often make this their prayer in the beginning and end of their epistles. (3.) Solid peace cannot be enjoyed where there is no true grace; first grace, then peace. Peace without grace is mere stupidity; but grace may be true where there is for a time no actual peace; as Heman was distracted with terror, and Christ was once in an agony. (4.) The increase of grace and peace, as well as the first gift of them, is from God. Where he gives true grace he will give more grace; and every good man earnestly desires the improvement and multiplication of these blessings in himself and others.
We come now to the body of the epistle, which begins with,
I. A congratulation of the dignity and happiness of the state of these believers, brought in under the form of a thanksgiving to God. Other epistles begin in like manner, 2Co. 1:3; Eph. 1:3. Here we have,
1. The duty performed, which is blessing God. A man blesses God by a just acknowledgment of his excellency and blessedness.
2. The object of this blessing described by his relation to Jesus Christ: The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Here are three names of one person, denoting his threefold office. (1.) He is Lord, a universal king or sovereign. (2.) Jesus, a priest or Saviour. (3.) Christ, a prophet, anointed with the Spirit and furnished with all gifts necessary for the instruction, guidance, and salvation of his church. This God, so blessed, is the God of Christ according to his human nature, and his Father according to his divine nature.
3. The reasons that oblige us to this duty of blessing God, which are comprised in his abundant mercy. All our blessings are owing to God's mercy, not to man's merit, particularly regeneration. He hath begotten us again, and this deserves our thanksgiving to God, especially if we consider the fruit it produces in us, which is that excellent grace of hope, and that not such a vain, dead, perishing hope as that of worldlings and hypocrites, but a lively hope, a living, strong, quickening, and durable hope, as that hope must needs be that has such a solid foundation as the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Learn, (1.) A good Christian's condition is never so bad but he has great reason still to bless God. As a sinner has always reason to mourn, notwithstanding his present prosperity, so good people, in the midst of their manifold difficulties, have reason still to rejoice and bless God. (2.) In our prayers and praises we should address God as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ; it is only through him that we and our services are accepted. (3.) The best of men owe their best blessings to the abundant mercy of God. All the evil in the world is from man's sin, but all the good in it is from God's mercy. Regeneration is expressly ascribed to the abundant mercy of God, and so are all the rest; we subsist entirely upon divine mercy. Of the nature of regeneration, see on Jn. 3:3. (4.) Regeneration produces a lively hope of eternal life. Every unconverted person is a hopeless creature; whatever he pretends to of that kind is all confidence and presumption. The right Christian hope is what a man is begotten again unto by the Spirit of God; it is not from nature, but free grace. Those who are begotten to a new and spiritual life are begotten to a new and spiritual hope. (5.) The hope of a Christian has this excellency, it is a living hope. The hope of eternal life in a true Christian is a hope that keeps him alive, quickens him, supports him, and conducts him to heaven. Hope invigorates and spirits up the soul to action, to patience, to fortitude, and perseverance to the end. The delusive hopes of the unregenerate are vain and perishing; the hypocrite and his hope expire and die both together, Job. 27:8. (6.) The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is the ground or foundation of a Christian's hope. The resurrection of Christ is the act of the Father as a Judge, of the Son as a conqueror. His resurrection demonstrates that the Father accepts his death in full discharge for our ransom, that he is victorious over death, the grave, and all our spiritual enemies; and it is also an assurance of our own resurrection. There being an inseparable union between Christ and his flock, they rise by virtue of his resurrection as a head, rather than by virtue of his power as a Judge. We have risen with Christ, Col. 3:1. From all this taken together, Christians have two firm and solid foundations whereon to build their hope of eternal life.
II. Having congratulated these people on their new birth, and the hope of everlasting life, the apostle goes on to describe that life under the notion of an inheritance, a most proper way of speaking to these people; for they were poor and persecuted, perhaps turned out of their inheritances to which they were born; to allay this grievance, he tells them they were new-born to a new inheritance, infinitely better than what they had lost. Besides, they were most of them Jews, and so had a great affection to the land of Canaan, as the land of their inheritance, settled upon them by God himself; and to be driven out from abiding in the inheritance of the Lord was looked upon as a sore judgment, 1Sa. 26:19. To comfort them under this they are put in mind of a noble inheritance reserved in heaven for them, such a one that the land of Canaan was but a mere shadow in comparison with it. Here note,
1. Heaven is the undoubted inheritance of all the children of God; all that are born again are born to an inheritance, as a man makes his child his heir; the apostle argues, If children, then heirs, Rom. 8:17. God giveth his gifts unto all, but the inheritance to none but his children; those that are his sons and daughters by regeneration and adoption receive the promise of eternal inheritance, Heb. 9:15. This inheritance is not our purchase, but our Father's gift; not wages that we merit, but the effect of grace, which first makes us children and then settles this inheritance upon us by a firm unalterable covenant.
2. The incomparable excellencies of this inheritance, which are four: - (1.) It is incorruptible, in which respect it is like its Maker, who is called the incorruptible God, Rom. 1:23. All corruption is a change from better to worse, but heaven is without change and without end; the house is eternal in the heavens, and the possessors must subsist for ever, for their corruptible must put on incorruption, 1Co. 15:53. (2.) This inheritance is undefiled, like the great high priest that is now in possession of it, who is holy, harmless, and undefiled, Heb. 7:26. Sin and misery, the two grand defilements that spoil this world, and mar its beauty, have no place there. (3.) It fadeth not away, but always retains its vigour and beauty, and remains immarcescible, ever entertaining and pleasing the saints who possess it, without the least weariness or distaste. (4.) “Reserved in heaven for you,” which expression teaches us, [1.] That it is a glorious inheritance, for it is in heaven, and all that is there is glorious, Eph. 1:18. [2.] It is certain, a reversion in another world, safely kept and preserved till we come to the possession of it. [3.] The persons for whom it is reserved are described, not by their names, but by their character: for you, or us, or every one that is begotten again to a lively hope. This inheritance is preserved for them, and none but them; all the rest will be shut out for ever.
III. This inheritance being described as future, and distant both in time and place, the apostle supposes some doubt or uneasiness yet to remain upon the minds of these people, whether they might not possibly fall short by the way. “Though the happiness be safe in heaven, yet we are still upon earth, liable to abundance of temptations, miseries, and infirmities. Are we in such a safe state that we shall certainly come thither?” To this he answers that they should be safely guarded and conducted thither; they should be kept and preserved from all such destructive temptations and injuries as would prevent their safe arrival at eternal life. The heir to an earthly estate has no assurance that he shall live to enjoy it, but the heirs of heaven shall certainly be conducted safely to the possession of it. The blessing here promised is preservation: You are kept; the author of it is God; the means in us made use of for that end are our own faith and care; the end to which we are preserved is salvation; and the time when we shall see the safe end and issue of all is the last time. Note, 1. Such is the tender care of God over his people that he not only gives them grace, but preserves them unto glory. Their being kept implies both danger and deliverance; they may be attacked, but shall not be overcome. 2. The preservation of the regenerate to eternal life is the effect of God's power. The greatness of the work, the number of enemies, and our own infirmities, are such that no power but what is almighty can preserve the soul through all unto salvation; therefore the scripture often represents man's salvation as the effect of divine power, 2Co. 12:9; Rom. 14:4. 3. Preservation by God's power does not supersede man's endeavour and care for his own salvation; here are God's power and man's faith, which implies an earnest desire of salvation, a reliance upon Christ according to his invitations and promises, a vigilant care to do every thing pleasing to God and avoid whatever is offensive, an abhorrence of temptations, a respect to the recompence of reward, and persevering diligence in prayer. By such a patient, operating, conquering faith, we are kept under the assistance of divine grace, unto salvation; faith is a sovereign preservative of the soul through a state of grace unto a state of glory. 4. This salvation is ready to be revealed in the last time. Here are three things asserted about the salvation of the saints: - (1.) That it is now prepared, and made ready, and reserved in heaven for them. (2.) Though it be made ready now, yet it is in a great measure hidden and unrevealed at present, not only to the ignorant, blind world, that never enquire after it, but even to the heirs of salvation themselves. It does not yet appear what we shall be, 1Jo. 3:2. (3.) That it shall be fully and completely revealed in the last time, or at the last day of judgment. Life and immortality are now brought to light by the gospel, but this life will be revealed more gloriously at death, when the soul shall be admitted into the presence of Christ, and behold his glory; and even beyond this there will be a further and a final revelation of the amplitude and transcendency of the saints' felicity at the last day, when their bodies shall be raised and re-united to their souls, and judgment shall pass upon angels and men, and Christ shall publicly honour and applaud his servants in the face of all the world.
The first word, wherein, refers to the apostle's foregoing discourse about the excellency of their present state, and their grand expectations for the future. “In this condition you greatly rejoice, though now for a season, or a little while, if need be, you are made sorrowful through manifold temptations,” 1Pe. 1:6.
I. The apostle grants they were in great affliction, and propounds several things in mitigation of their sorrows. 1. Every sound Christian has always something wherein he may greatly rejoice. Great rejoicing contains more than an inward placid serenity of mind or sensation of comfort; it will show itself in the countenance and conduct, but especially in praise and gratitude. 2. The chief joy of a good Christian arises from things spiritual and heavenly, from his relation to God and to heaven. In these every sound Christian greatly rejoices; his joy arises from his treasure, which consists of matters of great value, and the title to them is sure. 3. The best Christians, those who have reason greatly to rejoice, may yet be in great heaviness through manifold temptations. All sorts of adversities are temptations, or trials of faith, patience, and constancy. These seldom go singly, but are manifold, and come from different quarters, the effect of all which is great heaviness. As men, we are subject to sorrows, personal and domestic. As Christians, our duty to God obliges us to frequent sorrow: and our compassion towards the miserable, the dishonour done to God, the calamities of his church, and the destruction of mankind, from their own folly and from divine vengeance, raise, in a generous and pious mind, almost continual sorrow. I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart, Rom. 9:2. 4. The afflictions and sorrows of good people are but for a little while, they are but for a season; though they may be smart, they are but short. Life itself is but for a little while, and the sorrows of it cannot survive it; the shortness of any affliction does much abate the heaviness of it. 5. Great heaviness is often necessary to a Christian's good: If need be, you are in heaviness. God does not afflict his people willingly, but acts with judgment, in proportion to our needs. There is a conveniency and fitness, nay, an absolute necessity in the case, for so the expression signifies: it must be; therefore no man should be moved by these afflictions. For yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto, 1Th. 3:3. These troubles, that lie heavy, never come upon us but when we have need, and never stay any longer than needs must.
II. He expresses the end of their afflictions and the ground of their joy under them, 1Pe. 1:7. The end of good people's afflictions is the trial of their faith. As to the nature of this trial, it is much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire. The effect of the trial is this, it will be found unto praise, honour, and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ. Note, 1. The afflictions of serious Christians are designed for the trial of their faith. God's design in afflicting his people is their probation, not their destruction; their advantage, not their ruin: a trial, as the word signifies, is an experiment or search made upon a man, by some affliction, to prove the value and strength of his faith. This trial is made upon faith principally, rather than any other grace, because the trial of this is, in effect, the trial of all that is good in us. Our Christianity depends upon our faith; if this be wanting, there is nothing else that is spiritually good in us. Christ prays for this apostle, that his faith might not fail; if that be supported, all the rest will stand firm; the faith of good people is tried, that they themselves may have the comfort of it, God the glory of it, and others the benefit of it. 2. A tried faith is much more precious than tried gold. Here is a double comparison of faith and gold, and the trial of the one with the trial of the other. Gold is the most valuable, pure, useful, and durable, of all the metals; so is faith among the Christian virtues; it lasts till it brings the soul to heaven, and then it issues in the glorious fruition of God for ever. The trial of faith is much more precious than the trial of gold; in both there is a purification, a separation of the dross, and a discovery of the soundness and goodness of the things. Gold does not increase and multiply by trial in the fire, it rather grows less; but faith is established, improved, and multiplied, by the oppositions and afflictions that it meets with. Gold must perish at last - gold that perisheth; but faith never will. I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not, Luke 22:32. The trial of faith will be found to praise, and honour, and glory. Honour is properly that esteem and value which one has with another, and so God and man will honour the saints. Praise is the expression or declaration of that esteem; so Christ will commend his people in the great day, Come, you blessed of my Father, etc. Glory is that lustre wherewith a person, so honoured and praised, shines in heaven. Glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, Rom. 2:10. If a tried faith be found to praise, honour, and glory, let this recommend faith to you, as much more precious than gold, though it be assaulted and tried by afflictions. If you make your estimate either from present use or the final event of both, this will be found true, however the world may take it for an incredible paradox. 4. Jesus Christ will appear again in glory, and, when he does so, the saints will appear with him, and their graces will appear illustrious; and the more they have been tried the more bright they will then appear. The trial will soon be over, but the glory, honour, and praise will last to eternity. This should reconcile you to your present afflictions: they work for you a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.
III. He particularly commends the faith of these primitive Christians upon two accounts: -
1. The excellency of its object, the unseen Jesus. The apostle had seen our Lord in the flesh, but these dispersed Jews never did, and yet they believed in him, 1Pe. 1:8. It is one thing to believe God, or Christ (so the devils believe), and another thing to believe in him, which denotes subjection, reliance, and expectation of all promised good from him.
2. On account of two notable productions or effects of their faith, love and joy, and this joy so great as to be above description: You rejoice with joy unspeakable, and full of glory. Learn,
(1.) The faith of a Christian is properly conversant about things revealed, but not seen. Sense converses with things sensible and present; reason is a higher guide, which by sure deductions can infer the operation of causes, and the certainty of events; but faith ascends further still, and assures us of abundance of particulars that sense and reason could never have found out, upon the credit of revelation; it is the evidence of things not seen.
(2.) True faith is never alone, but produces a strong love to Jesus Christ. True Christians have a sincere love to Jesus, because they believe in him. This love discovers itself in the highest esteem for him, affectionate desires after him, willingness to be dissolved to be with him, delightful thoughts, cheerful services and sufferings, etc.
(3.) Where there are true faith and love to Christ there is, or may be, joy unspeakable and full of glory. This joy is inexpressible, it cannot be described by words; the best discovery is by an experimental taste of it; it is full of glory, full of heaven. There is much of heaven and the future glory in the present joys of improved Christians; their faith removes the causes of sorrow, and affords the best reasons for joy. Though good people sometimes walk in darkness, it is often owing to their own mistakes and ignorance, or to a fearful or melancholy disposition, or to some late sinful conduct, or perhaps to some sad occurrence of providence, that sinks their comfort for the present, yet they have reason to rejoice in the Lord, and joy in the God of their salvation, Hab. 3:18. Well might these primitive Christians rejoice with the joy unspeakable, since they were every day receiving the end of their faith, the salvation of their souls, 1Pe. 1:9. Note, [1.] The blessing they were receiving: The salvation of their souls (the more noble part being put for the whole man), which salvation is here called the end of their faith, the end wherein faith terminates: faith helps to save the soul, then it has done its work, and ceases for ever. [2.] He speaks of the present time: You are now actually receiving the end of your faith, etc. [3.] The word used alludes to the games at which the conqueror received or bore away from the judge of the contest a crown or reward, which he carried about in triumph; so the salvation of the soul was the prize these Christians sought for, the crown they laboured for, the end they aimed at, which came nearer and more within their reach every day. Learn, First, Every faithful Christian is daily receiving the salvation of his soul; salvation is one permanent thing, begun in this life, not interrupted by death, and continued to all eternity. These believers had the beginnings of heaven in the possession of holiness and a heavenly mind, in their duties and communion with God, in the earnest of the inheritance, and the witness of the divine Spirit. This was properly urged to these distressed people; they were on the losing side in the world, but the apostle puts them in the mind of what they were receiving; if they lost an inferior good, they were all the while receiving the salvation of their souls. Secondly, It is lawful for a Christian to make the salvation of his soul his end; the glory of God and our own felicity are so connected that if we regularly seek the one we must attain the other.
The apostle having described the persons to whom he wrote, and declared to them the excellent advantages they were under, goes on to show them what warrant he had for what he had delivered; and because they were Jews, and had a profound veneration for the Old Testament, he produces the authority of the prophets to convince them that the doctrine of salvation by faith in Jesus Christ was no new doctrine, but the same which the old prophets did enquire and search diligently into. Note,
I. Who made this diligent search - the prophets, who were persons inspired by God either to do or to say things extraordinary, above the reach of their own studies and abilities, as foretelling things to come, and revealing the will of God, by the direction of the Holy Spirit.
II. The object of their search, which was salvation, and the grace of God which should come unto you; the general salvation of men of all nations by Jesus Christ, and more especially the salvation afforded to the Jews, the grace that should come to them from him who was not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. They foresaw glorious times of light, grace, and comfort, coming upon the church, which made the prophets and righteous men desire to see and hear the things which came to pass in the days of the gospel.
III. The manner of their enquiry: they enquired and searched diligently. The words are strong and emphatic, alluding to miners, who dig to the bottom, and break through not only the earth, but the rock, to come to the ore; so these holy prophets had an earnest desire to know, and were proportionably diligent in their enquiries after the grace of God, which was to be revealed in the days of the Messiah: their being inspired did not make their industrious search needless; for, notwithstanding their extraordinary assistance from God, they were obliged to make use of all the ordinary methods of improvement in wisdom and knowledge. Daniel was a man greatly beloved and inspired, yet he understood by books and study the computations of time, Dan. 9:2. Even their own revelation required their study, meditation, and prayer; for many prophecies had a double meaning: in their first intention they aimed at some person or event near at hand, but their ultimate design was to describe the person, sufferings, or kingdom of Christ. Observe, 1. The doctrine of man's salvation by Jesus Christ has been the study and admiration of the greatest and wisest of men; the nobleness of the subject, and their own concern in it, have engaged them, with most accurate attention and seriousness to search into it. 2. A good man is much affected and pleased with the grace and mercy of God to others, as well as to himself. The prophets were highly delighted with the prospects of mercy to be shown both to Jews and Gentiles at the coming of Christ. 3. Those who would be acquainted with this great salvation, and the grace that shines therein, must enquire and search diligently into it: if it was necessary for an inspired prophet to do so, much more for persons so weak and injudicious as we are. 4. The grace that came by the gospel excels all that was before it; the gospel dispensation is more glorious, evident, intelligible, extensive, and effectual, than any dispensation that ever did precede it.
IV. The particular matters which the ancient prophets chiefly searched into, which are expressed in 1Pe. 1:11. Jesus Christ was the main subject of their studies; and, in relation to him, they were most inquisitive into,
1. His humiliation and death, and the glorious consequences of it: The sufferings of Christ, and the glories that should follow. This enquiry would lead them into a view of the whole gospel, the sum whereof is this, that Christ Jesus was delivered for our offences and raised again for our justification.
2. The time, and the manner of the times, wherein the Messiah was to appear. Undoubtedly these holy prophets earnestly desired to see the days of the Son of man; and therefore, next to the thing itself, their minds were set upon the time of its accomplishment, so far as the Spirit of Christ, which was in them, had signified any thing towards that purpose. The nature of the times was also under their strict consideration, whether they would be quiet or troublesome times, times of peace or times of war. Learn, (1.) Jesus Christ had a being before his incarnation; for his Spirit did then exist in the prophets, and therefore he whose that Spirit then was must be in being also. (2.) The doctrine of the Trinity was not wholly unknown to the faithful in the Old Testament. The prophets knew that they were inspired by a Spirit that was in them; this Spirit they knew to be the Spirit of Christ, and consequently distinct from Christ himself: here is a plurality of persons, and from other parts of the Old Testament a Trinity may be collected. (3.) The works here ascribed to the Holy Ghost prove him to be God. He did signify, discover, and manifest to the prophets, many hundred years beforehand, the sufferings of Christ, with a multitude of particular circumstances attending them; and he did also testify, or give proof and evidence beforehand, of the certainty of that event, by inspiring the prophets to reveal it, to work miracles in confirmation of it, and by enabling the faithful to believe it. These works prove the Spirit of Christ to be God, since he is possessed of almighty power and infinite knowledge. (4.) From the example of Christ Jesus learn to expect a time of services and sufferings before you are received to glory. It was so with him, and the disciple is not above his Lord. The suffering time is but short, but the glory is everlasting; let the suffering season be ever so sharp and severe, it shall not hinder, but work for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.
V. The success with which their enquiries were crowned. Their holy endeavours to inform themselves were not slighted, for God gave them a satisfactory revelation to quiet and comfort their minds. They were informed that these things should not come to pass in their time, but yet all was firm and certain, and should come to pass in the times of the apostles: Not unto themselves, but to us; and we must report them, under the infallible direction of the Holy Ghost, to all the world. Which things the angels, etc.
You have here three sorts of students, or enquirers into the great affair of man's salvation by Jesus Christ: - 1. The prophets, who searched diligently into it. 2. The apostles, who consulted all the prophecies, and were witnesses of the accomplishment of them, and so reported what they knew to others in the preaching of the gospel. 3. The angels, who most attentively pry into these matters. Learn, (1.) A diligent endeavour after the knowledge of Christ and our duty will certainly be answered with good success. The prophets are answered with a revelation. Daniel studies, and receives information: the Bereans search the scriptures, and are confirmed. (2.) The holiest and best of men sometimes have their lawful and pious requests denied. It was both lawful and pious for these prophets to desire to know more than they were permitted to know about the time of the appearance of Christ in the world, but they were denied. It is lawful and pious for good parents to pray for their wicked children, for the poor to pray against poverty, for a good man to pray against death; yet, in these honest requests, they often are denied. God is pleased to answer our necessities rather than our requests. (3.) It is the honour and practice of a Christian to be useful to others, in many cases, rather than to himself. The prophets ministered to others, not unto themselves. None of us liveth to himself, Rom. 14:7. Nothing is more contrary to man's nature nor to Christian principles than for a man to make himself his own end, and live to himself. (4.) The revelations of God to his church, though gradual, and given by parcels, are all perfectly consistent; the doctrine of the prophets and that of the apostles exactly agree, as coming from the same Spirit of God. (5.) The efficacy of the evangelical ministry depends upon the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven. The gospel is the ministration of the Spirit; the success of it depends upon his operation and blessing. (6.) The mysteries of the gospel, and the methods of man's salvation, are so glorious that the blessed angels earnestly desire to look into them; they are curious, accurate, and industrious in prying into them; they consider the whole scheme of man's redemption with deep attention and admiration, particularly the points the apostle had been discoursing of: Which things the angels desire to stoop down and look into, as the cherubim did continually towards the mercy-seat.
Here the apostle begins his exhortations to those whose glorious state he had before described, thereby instructing us that Christianity is a doctrine according to godliness, designed to make us not only wiser, but better.
I. He exhorts them to sobriety and holiness.
1. Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, etc., 1Pe. 1:13. As if he had said, “Wherefore, since you are so honoured and distinguished, as above, Gird up the loins of your mind. You have a journey to go, a race to run, a warfare to accomplish, and a great work to do; as the traveller, the racer, the warrior, and the labourer, gather in, and gird up, their long and loose garments, that they may be more ready, prompt, and expeditious in their business, so do you by your minds, your inner man, and affections seated there: gird them, gather them in, let them not hang loose and neglected about you; restrain their extravagances, and let the loins or strength and vigour of your minds be exerted in your duty; disengage yourselves from all that would hinder you, and go on resolutely in your obedience. Be sober, be vigilant against all your spiritual dangers and enemies, and be temperate and modest in eating, drinking, apparel, recreation, business, and in the whole of your behaviour. Be sober-mined also in opinion, as well as in practice, and humble in your judgment of yourselves.” And hope to the end, for the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Some refer this to the last judgment, as if the apostle directed their hope to the final revelation of Jesus Christ; but it seems more natural to take it, as it might be rendered, “Hope perfectly, or thoroughly, for the grace that is brought to you in or by the revelation of Jesus Christ; that is, by the gospel, which brings life and immortality to light. Hope perfectly, trust without doubting to that grace which is now offered to you by the gospel.” Learn, (1.) The main work of a Christian lies in the right management of his heart and mind; the apostle's first direction is to gird up the loins of the mind. (2.) The best Christians have need to be exhorted to sobriety. These excellent Christians are put in mind of it; it is required of a bishop (1Ti. 3:2), of aged men (Tit. 2:2), the young women are to be taught it, and the young men are directed to be sober-minded, Tit. 2:4, Tit. 2:6. (3.) A Christian's work is not over as soon as he has got into a state of grace; he must still hope and strive for more grace. When he has entered the strait gate, he must still walk in the narrow way, and gird up the loins of his mind for that purpose. (4.) A strong and perfect trust in God's grace is very consistent with our best endeavours in our duty; we must hope perfectly, and yet gird up our loins, and address ourselves vigorously to the work we have to do, encouraging ourselves from the grace of Jesus Christ.
2. As obedient children, etc., 1Pe. 1:14. These words may be taken as a rule of holy living, which is both positive - “You ought to live as obedient children, as those whom God hath adopted into his family, and regenerated by his grace;” and negative - “You must not fashion yourselves according to the former lusts, in your ignorance.” Or the words may be taken as an argument to press them to holiness from the consideration of what they now are, children of obedience, and what they were when they lived in lust and ignorance. Learn, (1.) The children of God ought to prove themselves to be such by their obedience to God, by their present, constant, universal obedience. (2.) The best of God's children have had their times of lust and ignorance; the time has been when the whole scheme of their lives, their way and fashion, was to accommodate and gratify their unlawful desires and vicious appetites, being grossly ignorant of God and themselves, of Christ and the gospel. (3.) Persons, when converted, differ exceedingly from what they were formerly. They are people of another fashion and manner from what they were before; their inward frame, behaviour, speech, and conversation, are much altered from what they were in times past. (4.) The lusts and extravagances of sinners are both the fruits and the signs of their ignorance.
3. But as he who hath called you, etc., 1Pe. 1:15, 1Pe. 1:16. Here is a noble rule enforced by strong arguments: Be you holy in all manner of conversation. Who is sufficient for this? And yet it is required in strong terms, and enforced by three reasons, taken from the grace of God in calling us, - from his command, it is written, - and from his example. Be you holy, for I am holy. Learn, (1.) The grace of God in calling a sinner is a powerful engagement to holiness. It is a great favour to be called effectually by divine grace out of a state of sin and misery into the possession of all the blessings of the new covenant; and great favours are strong obligations; they enable as well as oblige to be holy. (2.) Complete holiness is the desire and duty of every Christian. Here is a two-fold rule of holiness: [1.] It must, for the extent of it, be universal. We must be holy, and be so in all manner of conversation; in all civil and religious affairs, in every condition, prosperous or reverse; towards all people, friends and enemies; in all our intercourse and business still we must be holy. [2.] For the pattern of it. We must be holy, as God is holy: we must imitate him, though we can never equal him. He is perfectly, unchangeably, and eternally holy; and we should aspire after such a state. The consideration of the holiness of God should oblige as to the highest degree of holiness we can attain unto. (3.) The written word of God is the surest rule of a Christian's life, and by this rule we are commanded to be holy every way. (4.) The Old Testament commands are to be studied and obeyed in the times of the New Testament; the apostle, by virtue of a command delivered several times by Moses, requires holiness in all Christians.
4. If you call on the Father, etc., 1Pe. 1:17. The apostle does not there express any doubt at all whether these Christians would call upon their heavenly Father, but supposes they would certainly do it, and from this argues with them to pass the time of their sojourning here in fear: “If you own the great God as a Father and a Judge, you ought to live the time of your sojourning here in his fear.” Learn, (1.) All good Christians look upon themselves in this world as pilgrims and strangers, as strangers in a distant country, passing to another, to which they properly belong, Psa. 39:12; Heb. 11:13. (2.) The whole time of our sojourning here is to be passed in the fear of God. (3.) The consideration of God as a Judge is not improper for those who can truly call him Father. Holy confidence in God as a Father, an awful fear of him as a Judge, are very consistent; to regard God as a Judge is a singular means to endear him to us as a Father. (4.) The judgment of God will be without respect of persons: According to every man's work. No external relation to him will protect any; the Jew may call God Father and Abraham father, but God will not respect persons, nor favour their cause, from personal considerations, but judge them according to their work. The works of men will in the great day discover their persons; God will make all the world to know who are his by their works. We are obliged to faith, holiness, and obedience, and our works will be an evidence whether we have complied with our obligations or not.
5. The apostle having extorted them to pass the time of their sojourning in the fear of God from this consideration, that they called on the Father, he adds (1Pe. 1:18) a second argument: Because or forasmuch as you were not redeemed with corruptible things, etc. Herein he puts them in mind, (1.) That they were redeemed, or bought back again, by a ransom paid to the Father. (2.) What the price paid for their redemption was: Not with corruptible things, as silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ. (3.) From what they were redeemed: From a vain conversation received by tradition. (4.) They knew this: Forasmuch as you know, and cannot pretend ignorance of this great affair. Learn, [1.] The consideration of our redemption ought to be a constant and powerful inducement to holiness, and the fear of God. [2.] God expects that a Christian should live answerably to what he knows, and therefore we have great need to be put in mind of what we already know, Psa. 39:4. [3.] Neither silver nor gold, nor any of the corruptible things of this world, can redeem so much as one soul. They are often snares, temptations, and hindrances to man's salvation, but they can by no means purchase or procure it; they are corruptible, and therefore cannot redeem an incorruptible and immortal soul. [4.] The blood of Jesus Christ is the only price of man's redemption. The redemption of man is real, not metaphorical. We are bought with a price, and the price is equal to the purchase, for it is the precious blood of Christ; it is the blood of an innocent person, a lamb without blemish and without spot, whom the paschal lamb represented, and of an infinite person, being the Son of God, and therefore it is called the blood of God, Acts 20:28. [5.] The design of Christ in shedding his most precious blood was to redeem us, not only from eternal misery hereafter, but from a vain conversation in this world. That conversation is vain which is empty, frivolous, trifling, and unserviceable to the honour of God, the credit of religion, the conviction of unbelievers, and the comfort and satisfaction of a man's own conscience. Not only the open wickedness, but the vanity and unprofitableness of our conversation are highly dangerous. [6.] A man's conversation may carry an appearance of devotion, and may plead antiquity, custom, and tradition, in its defence, and yet after all be a most vain conversation. The Jews had a deal to say from these heads, for all their formalities; and yet their conversation was so vain that only the blood of Christ could redeem them from it. Antiquity is no certain rule of verity, nor is it a wise resolution, “I will live and die in such a way, because my forefathers did so.”
6. Having mentioned the price of redemption, the apostle goes on to speak of some things relating both to the Redeemer and the redeemed, 1Pe. 1:20, 1Pe. 1:21.
(1.) The Redeemer is further described, not only as a Lamb without spot, but as one, [1.] That was fore-ordained before the foundation of the world, fore-ordained or foreknown. When prescience is ascribed to God, it implies more than bare prospect or speculation. It imports an act of the will, a resolution that the thing shall be, Acts 2:23. God did not only foreknow, but determine and decree, that his Son should die for man, and this decree was before the foundation of the world. Time and the world began together; before the commencement of time there was nothing but eternity. [2.] That was manifested in these last days for them. He was manifested or demonstrated to be that Redeemer whom God had fore-ordained. He was manifested by his birth, by his Father's testimony, and by his own works, especially by his resurrection from the dead, Rom. 1:4. “This was done in these last times of the New Testament and of the gospel, for you, you Jews, you sinners, you afflicted ones; you have the comfort of the manifestation and appearance of Christ, if you believe on him.” [3.] That was raised from the dead by the Father, who gave him glory. The resurrection of Christ, considered as an act of power, is common to all the three persons, but as an act of judgment it is peculiar to the Father, who as a Judge released Christ, raised him from the grave, and gave him glory, proclaimed him to all the world to be his Son by his resurrection from the dead, advanced him to heaven, crowned him with glory and honour, invested him with all power in heaven and earth, and glorified him with that glory which he had with God before the world was.
(2.) The redeemed are also described here by their faith and hope, the cause of which is Jesus Christ: “You do by him believe in God - by him as the author, encourager, support, and finisher of your faith; your faith and hope now may be in God, as reconciled to you by Christ the Mediator.”
(3.) From all this we learn, [1.] The decree of God to send Christ to be a Mediator was from everlasting, and was a just and merciful decree, which yet does not at all excuse man's sin in crucifying him, Acts 2:23. God had purposes of special favour towards his people long before he made any manifestations of such grace to them. [2.] Great is the happiness of the last times in comparison with what the former ages of the world enjoyed. The clearness of light, the supports of faith, the efficacy of ordinances, and the proportion of comforts - these are all much greater since the manifestation of Christ than they were before. Our gratitude and services should be suitable to such favours. [3.] The redemption of Christ belongs to none but true believers. A general impetration is asserted by some and denied by others, but none pretend to a general application of Christ's death for the salvation of all. Hypocrites and unbelievers will be ruined for ever, notwithstanding the death of Christ. [4.] God in Christ is the ultimate object of a Christian's faith, which is strongly supported by the resurrection of Christ, and the glory that did follow.
II. He exhorts them to brotherly love.
1. He supposes that the gospel had already had such an effect upon them as to purify their souls while they obeyed it through the Spirit, and that it had produced at least an unfeigned love of the brethren; and thence he argues with them to proceed to a higher degree of affection, to love one another with a pure heart fervently, 1Pe. 1:22. Learn, (1.) It is not to be doubted but that every sincere Christian purifies his soul. The apostle takes this for granted: Seeing you have, etc. To purify the soul supposes some great uncleanness and defilement which had polluted it, and that this defilement is removed. Neither the Levitical purifications under the law, nor the hypocritical purifications of the outward man, can effect this. (2.) The word of God is the great instrument of a sinner's purification: Seeing you have purified your souls in obeying the truth. The gospel is called truth, in opposition to types and shadows, to error and falsehood. This truth is effectual to purify the soul, if it be obeyed, Jn. 17:17. Many hear the truth, but are never purified by it, because they will not submit to it nor obey it. (3.) The Spirit of God is the great agent in the purification of man's soul. The Spirit convinces the soul of its impurities, furnishes those virtues and graces that both adorn and purify, such as faith (Acts 15:9), hope (1Jo. 3:3), the fear of God (Psa. 34:9), and the love of Jesus Christ. The Spirit excites our endeavours, and makes them successful. The aid of the Spirit does not supersede our own industry; these people purified their own souls, but it was through the Spirit. (4.) The souls of Christians must be purified before they can so much as love one another unfeignedly. There are such lusts and partialities in man's nature that without divine grace we can neither love God nor one another as we ought to do; there is no charity but out of a pure heart. (5.) It is the duty of all Christians sincerely and fervently to love one another. Our affection to one another must be sincere and real, and it must be fervent, constant, and extensive.
2. He further presses upon Christians the duty of loving one another with a pure heart fervently from the consideration of their spiritual relation; they are all born again, not of corruptible seed, but incorruptible, etc. Hence we may learn, (1.) That all Christians are born again. The apostle speaks of it as what is common to all serious Christians, and by this they are brought into a new and a near relation to one another, they become brethren by their new birth. (2.) The word of God is the great means of regeneration, Jam. 1:18. The grace of regeneration is conveyed by the gospel. (3.) This new and second birth is much more desirable and excellent than the first. This the apostle teaches by preferring the incorruptible to the corruptible seed. By the one we become the children of men, by the other the sons and daughters of the Most High. The word of God being compared to seed teaches us that though it is little in appearance, yet it is wonderful in operation, though it lies hid awhile, yet it grows up and produces excellent fruit at last. (4.) Those that are regenerate should love one another with a pure heart fervently. Brethren by nature are bound to love one another; but the obligation is double where there is a spiritual relation: they are under the same government, partake of the same privileges, and have embarked in the same interest. (5.) The word of God lives and abides for ever. This word is a living word, or a lively word, Heb. 4:12. It is a means of spiritual life, to begin it and preserve in it, animating and exciting us in our duty, till it brings us to eternal life: and it is abiding; it remains eternally true, and abides in the hearts of the regenerate for ever. — Henry
The apostle having given an account of the excellency of the renewed spiritual man as born again, not of corruptible but incorruptible seed, he now sets before us the vanity of the natural man, taking him with all his ornaments and advantages about him: For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass; and nothing can make him a solid substantial being, but the being born again of the incorruptible seed, the word of God, which will transform him into a most excellent creature, whose glory will not fade like a flower, but shine like an angel; and this word is daily set before you in the preaching of the gospel. Learn, 1. Man, in his utmost flourish and glory, is still a withering, fading, dying creature. Take him singly, all flesh is grass. In his entrance into the world, in his life and in his fall, he is similar to grass, Job. 14:2; Isa. 40:6, Isa. 40:7. Take him in all his glory, even this is as the flower of grass; his wit, beauty, strength, vigour, wealth, honour - these are but as the flower of grass, which soon withers and dies away. 2. The only way to render this perishing creature solid and incorruptible is for him to entertain and receive the word of God; for this remains everlasting truth, and, if received, will preserve him to everlasting life, and abide with him for ever. 3. The prophets and apostles preached the same doctrine. This word which Isaiah and others delivered in the Old Testament is the same which the apostles preached in the New. — Henry
1Pt. 1:23-25: Peter does not point the saints to a perpetuated Petrine papacy, and a church as having birthed them into Christ, but to the pure perpetual word of God, by which they were saved, the church being the fallible instrument of it. The “word of God” is not restricted to the Scriptures, nor do they precisely reveal all that can be known, (Jn. 21:25; 2Cor. 12:4; Rv. 10:4) yet interestingly, i know of no place where the phrase “the word of God” or “the word of the Lord” refers to unwritten revelation that was not subsequently written down.) The Scriptures also provide for the leading of the Holy Spirit in accordance with and within the truths that are written therein. (Acts 13:2; 15:28; 16:9)
However, Scripture is the only transcendent, objective source which is affirmed to be wholly inspired by God, and thus all purported revelation or illumination is judged by it. Nor can the latter be considered equal to Scripture without effectively adding to the canon. Scripture was established as being wholly inspired of God by enduring heavenly qualities, progressively complementary conflation, and God's supernatural attestation, which is like how men of God such as the apostles were established as being from God. The LORD affirmed the faith of Abraham and Moses, and the writings of the latter, which became the authority for obedience and standard by which additional revelation was tested by, and which principle is seen continuing through to the last book written.
Partial list of references to Divine written revelation being written (Scripture) and references to it: Ex. 17:14; 24:4,7,12; 31:18; 32:15; 34:1,27; 35:29; Lv. 8:36; 10:10; 26:46; Num. 4:5,37,45,49; 9:23; 10:13; 15:23; 16:40; 27:23; 33:2; 36:13; Dt. 4:13; 5:22; 9:10; 10:2,4; 17:18,19; 27:3,8; 28:58,61; 29:20,21,27; 30:10; 31:9,11,19,22,26; Josh. 1:8; 8:31,32,34,35; 10:13; 14:2; 20:2; 21:2; 22:9; 23:6; 24:26; Jdg. 3:4; 1Sam. 10:25; 2Sam. 1:8; 1Ki. 2:3; 8:53,56; 12:22; 2Ki. 1:8; 14:6; 17:37; 22:8,10,13,16; 23:2,21; 1Ch. 16:40; 17:3,9; 2Ch. 23:18; 25:4; 31:3; 33:8; 34:14,15,18,21,24; 34:30; 35:6,12; Ezra 3:2,4; 6:18; Neh. 6:6; 8:1,3,8,15,18; 9:3,14; 10:34,36; 13:1; Psa. 40:7; Is. 8:20; 30:8; 34:16; 65:6; Jer. 17:1; 25:13; 30:2; 36:2,6,10,18,27,28; 51:60; Dan. 9:11,13; Hab. 2:2;
Mat. 1:22; 2:5,15; 3:3; 4:4,6,7,10,14; 8:4,17; 11:10; 12:3,5,17; 13:35; 19:47,8; 21:4,13,16,42; 22:24,29,31; 24:15; 26:24,31,54,56; 27:9,34; Mark 1:2,44; 7:3,10; 9:12,13; 10:4,5; 11:17; 12:10,19,24,26 13:14; 14:21,47,49; Lk. 2:3,22,23; 3:4; 4:4,8,10,16,17,20; 5:14; 7:27; 10:26; 16:29,31; 18:31; 19:46; 20:17,28,37,42; 22:37, 24:22.27,32,44,45,46; Jn. 1:17,45; 2:17; 3:14; 5:39,45-47; 6:31,32,45; 7:19,22,23,42,52; 8:5,17; 12:14; 10; 34; 12:14,16; 15:25; 20:31; 21:24; Acts 1:20; 2:16-21,25-28,34,35; 3:22; 7:42; 8:28,30,32; 7:42; 3:33; 13:29,33,39; 15:5,15,21; 17:2,11; 18:24,28; 21:24; 23:5; 24:14; 26:22; Rom 1:2,17; 2:24; 3:4,10; 4:3,17,23; 8:36; 9:3,13,15,17,,33; 10:5,11,15,19; 11:2,8,26; 12:19; 14:11; 15:3,4,9,21; 16:16,26,27; 1Cor. 1:19,31; 2:9; 3:19; 4:6; 9:9,10; 10:7,11; 14:21; 15:3,4,45,54; 2Cor. 1:13; 2:3,4; 3:7,15; 4:13; 7:12; 8:15; 9:9; Gal. 3:10,13; 4:22,27; Eph. 3:3,4; Col. 4:16; 1Thes. 5:27; 2Tim. 3:15; Heb. 7:28; 8:5; 10:7,28; 13:22; 1Pet. 1:16; 5:12; 2Pet. 3:15,16; 1Jn. 2:21; 5:13; Rev. 1:3,11; 22:6,7;10,18,19
New Testament Table of Contents, and please read the Introductory Notes here