New Christian Relationships

1 Peter 1:13‑25; 1 Peter 2:1‑17  •  37 min. read  •  grade level: 9
(Chapter 1:13–2:17)
At this point in the epistle, Peter launches into several series of practical exhortations based on the truth that he has stated in the foregoing verses. These exhortations continue through to the end of the epistle. This swing from doctrine to exhortation is marked by a pivotal, “Wherefore.” He says, “Wherefore, having girded up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope with perfect stedfastness in the grace which will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (vs. 13). This opening injunction has to do with the saints being in a right state of soul so that they would respond appropriately to the exhortations that Peter was about to give.
“Gird up the loins,” is a figure taken from the clothing that they wore in old times. People in those days prepared themselves for work by gathering and tying back their loose clothing with a belt (a girdle) that wrapped around their waist and hip area (the loins). It is used in Scripture, in a spiritual sense, for the saints needing to prepare themselves for action in divine things. The loins of our “mind” being girded, means that we are to not allow our thoughts to fly about in every direction, but to be focused on the interests of Christ and being prepared to serve Him.
Being “sober” is important too; it has to do with recognizing that life on earth is brief, and therefore, we are to be found using our time wisely in view of eternity (Psa. 90:1212So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. (Psalm 90:12)).
To “hope with perfect stedfastness,” is not to allow our confidence to waver regarding the certainty of our hope of being glorified like Christ and being displayed with Him in the day of His manifestation (His Appearing)—which Peter calls “the revelation of Jesus Christ.” The fact that Peter would give this exhortation shows that there is a real danger of getting distracted in our Christian lives and settling down in earthly things. The “grace” that will be brought to us at the Appearing of Christ (vs. 13) could not be the “grace” of our soul-salvation (vs. 10) because we have that now. Nor could it be the glorification of our bodies when we receive our full salvation (vs. 5) because that will have happened at the Rapture. The grace that Peter is referring to here is the privilege of reigning with Christ in His kingdom (Rev. 20:44And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (Revelation 20:4)), and thus, being displayed with Him before the world (2 Thess. 1:1010When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day. (2 Thessalonians 1:10)).
Christian Appellatives
(Chapter 1:14–2:17)
Not only had these believers been introduced into a circle of blessings in Christ risen that were all new to them, but they also had a new relationship with God as Father and new connections with fellow believers in the household of faith. Since they may not have been familiar with these things, Peter addresses these new relationships under various names (appellatives) which believers on the Lord Jesus are known by and exhorts them according to the responsibility connected with each.
(Chapter 1:14-21)
Peter begins by addressing them as “children” in the family of God. He says, “As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: but as He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy” (vss. 14-16). This was a relationship with God that they didn’t have before they were saved. Prior to believing the gospel, they were children of Israel, but now having received Christ, they were “children of God” (John 1:1212But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: (John 1:12)). The Apostle John asks us to consider this great blessing and privilege: “Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the children of God” (1 John 3:11Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. (1 John 3:1)).
Peter then impresses upon them that in the family of God increased privileges bring increased responsibilities. In their case, if they were going to be found in a relationship with God as His children, they would have to walk in holiness, for God is holy. Hence, “the former lusts” of their “ignorance,” to which they were once “conformed,” must be put off immediately. As children in relation to God our Father, we are to be marked by obedience. The character of this obedience was demonstrated in the Lord’s own life when He walked here (John 8:2929And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him. (John 8:29)). It was motivated by love (John 14:31; 15:1031But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do. Arise, let us go hence. (John 14:31)
10If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love. (John 15:10)
), rather than being a legal injunction. Thus, we are to obey as Christ obeyed—“from the heart” (Rom. 6:1717But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. (Romans 6:17)).
Two Strong Motives for Walking in Holiness
In verses 17-20, Peter brings in two strong motives for walking in holiness. One has to do with our consciences and the other concerns our hearts. At all times, we are to be:
•  Conscious of the fact that we could displease our Father and incur His governmental judgment (vs. 17).
•  Conscious of the fact that we have been redeemed with a great price—the precious blood of Christ—and thus, our lives are no longer our own (vss. 18-20).
As to the first of these, Peter says, “If ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourn here in fear” (vs. 17). This shows that if we carry on carelessly in unholiness, it will bestir our Father to action, and in faithfulness He will exercise judgment in our lives (in the form of disciplinary chastening) to correct us. We might ask, “Does God really judge His children?” This verse clearly shows that He does. But as we have indicated in the Introduction (pp. 13-15), it is governmental judgment, which pertains only to our life on the earth. It has nothing to do with our standing before God in Christ, which is eternally secure. Governmental judgment in God’s family has to do with the dealings of a loving Father correcting His children. He works behind the scenes in our lives in a negative way, frustrating our purposes and plans in order to arrest us in our waywardness. He will allow trouble to touch us in the way of problems, sorrows, sicknesses, etc., all with a view to producing repentance. When there is genuine repentance with us, God will often exercise governmental forgiveness and lift the discipline that His hand has placed upon us (Matt. 18:26-2726The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. 27Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. (Matthew 18:26‑27); Luke 7:4848And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven. (Luke 7:48); John 5:1414Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee. (John 5:14); James 5:1515And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. (James 5:15); Psa. 103:10-1110He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. 11For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. (Psalm 103:10‑11); Psa. 130:3-43If thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand? 4But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared. (Psalm 130:3‑4)).
The “fear” that Peter says that we should have is not a fear of losing our salvation and our relationship with God as our Father. If we fail in holiness, our relationship with God does not change, but it may bring His hand upon us for correction. The fear that Peter is speaking about here is a reverential fear—a healthy respect for the faithfulness of God to chasten His children, if necessary (Heb. 12:5-115And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: 6For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. 7If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? 8But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. 9Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? 10For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. 11Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. (Hebrews 12:5‑11)). Peter says that the Father judges “without respect of persons.” This means that God has no favourites in His family. None of His children can live carelessly and not feel His chastening hand in some way (Heb. 12:6-76For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. 7If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? (Hebrews 12:6‑7)).
The second motive for walking in holiness is the great cost of our redemption. Peter says, “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition [handed down] from your fathers: but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (vss. 18-19). We have been redeemed at a great cost, and as a result, the Lord has a claim on our lives. Due to what He accomplished at Calvary, we now belong to Him; our lives are His to use in whatever way He chooses. The Apostle Paul said, “Ye are not your own, for ye are bought with a price: therefore, glorify God in your body” (1 Cor. 6:19-2019What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 20For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's. (1 Corinthians 6:19‑20)). When we think of the price that He paid to redeem us, we should gladly surrender our lives to Him.
I love to own, Lord Jesus,
Thy claims over me divine;
Bought with Thy blood most precious,
Whose can I be but Thine.
L.F. #16 App.
In view of Calvary, the logical rationale is: “How can I go on living an unholy life when Christ has paid so great a price to set me free from all that? From this day forward, I’m going to acknowledge His Lordship authority in my life, and with His help, I’m going to do the things that will please Him and glorify Him.”
To press home to our hearts the value of Christ’s great work on the cross, Peter contrasts the redemption money that Israel paid in old times with the price Christ has paid to redeem us. The children of Israel who were over twenty years of age were to give a half shekel of “silver” as a “ransom” for their souls (Ex. 30:11-16; 38:25-2611And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, 12When thou takest the sum of the children of Israel after their number, then shall they give every man a ransom for his soul unto the Lord, when thou numberest them; that there be no plague among them, when thou numberest them. 13This they shall give, every one that passeth among them that are numbered, half a shekel after the shekel of the sanctuary: (a shekel is twenty gerahs:) an half shekel shall be the offering of the Lord. 14Every one that passeth among them that are numbered, from twenty years old and above, shall give an offering unto the Lord. 15The rich shall not give more, and the poor shall not give less than half a shekel, when they give an offering unto the Lord, to make an atonement for your souls. 16And thou shalt take the atonement money of the children of Israel, and shalt appoint it for the service of the tabernacle of the congregation; that it may be a memorial unto the children of Israel before the Lord, to make an atonement for your souls. (Exodus 30:11‑16)
25And the silver of them that were numbered of the congregation was an hundred talents, and a thousand seven hundred and threescore and fifteen shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary: 26A bekah for every man, that is, half a shekel, after the shekel of the sanctuary, for every one that went to be numbered, from twenty years old and upward, for six hundred thousand and three thousand and five hundred and fifty men. (Exodus 38:25‑26)
). They also gave “gold” to make “atonement” (Num. 31:48-5448And the officers which were over thousands of the host, the captains of thousands, and captains of hundreds, came near unto Moses: 49And they said unto Moses, Thy servants have taken the sum of the men of war which are under our charge, and there lacketh not one man of us. 50We have therefore brought an oblation for the Lord, what every man hath gotten, of jewels of gold, chains, and bracelets, rings, earrings, and tablets, to make an atonement for our souls before the Lord. 51And Moses and Eleazar the priest took the gold of them, even all wrought jewels. 52And all the gold of the offering that they offered up to the Lord, of the captains of thousands, and of the captains of hundreds, was sixteen thousand seven hundred and fifty shekels. 53(For the men of war had taken spoil, every man for himself.) 54And Moses and Eleazar the priest took the gold of the captains of thousands and of hundreds, and brought it into the tabernacle of the congregation, for a memorial for the children of Israel before the Lord. (Numbers 31:48‑54)). In contrast to that, Christ’s sacrifice as the “Lamb” of God was of infinite value. He gave HIMSELF as a ransom for our souls! (Gal. 1:4; 2:204Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father: (Galatians 1:4)
20I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)
; Eph. 5:2, 252And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savor. (Ephesians 5:2)
25Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; (Ephesians 5:25)
; 1 Tim. 2:66Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. (1 Timothy 2:6): Titus 2:1414Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. (Titus 2:14)) Therefore, His Person (chap. 2:7) and His work, signified by His blood (chap. 1:19), are both “precious” to the saints. The practical effect this has on us is that we want to do things that please Him (Psa. 116:1212What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me? (Psalm 116:12)). In this context, it is to live a holy life. As the ultimate and perfect sacrifice for sin, Christ was “without blemish” inwardly (1 John 3:44Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. (1 John 3:4)) and “without spot” outwardly (1 Peter 2:2222Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: (1 Peter 2:22)). Compare Numbers 19:22This is the ordinance of the law which the Lord hath commanded, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring thee a red heifer without spot, wherein is no blemish, and upon which never came yoke: (Numbers 19:2).
Lest any should think that the entrance of sin has upset God’s plan to bless man, Peter shows that redemption was not an afterthought with God. He says, “Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world but was manifest in these last times for you” (vs. 20). Thus, God fully anticipated the fall of man and its consequences, and pre-ordained that Christ would be sent into the world as the great Redeemer in Israel’s last days. The “last times” of which Peter speaks is in connection with God’s dealings with Israel; it is not to be confused with the “last days” of the Christian testimony, which we are in today (2 Tim. 3:11This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. (2 Timothy 3:1)). The cycle of Daniel’s seventy weeks which will conclude with Israel’s restoration and blessing (Dan. 9:24-2724Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy. 25Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. 26And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. 27And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate. (Daniel 9:24‑27)) was broken between the 69th and 70th week when the Jews rejected their “Messiah.” The New Testament teaches us that during this suspension of God’s dealings with Israel, He has directed His energy towards the calling of the Church, which is a special company of blessed persons distinct from Israel and who have a heavenly destiny with Christ as His body and bride. And thus, we will be with Him when He reigns in His millennial kingdom. Therefore, the Church period of almost 2000 years has come parenthetically between the 69th and 70th week (Rom. 11:11-3211I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. 12Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness? 13For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: 14If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them. 15For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead? 16For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches. 17And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree; 18Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee. 19Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in. 20Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear: 21For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee. 22Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off. 23And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in: for God is able to graff them in again. 24For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert graffed contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be graffed into their own olive tree? 25For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. 26And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: 27For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. 28As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers' sakes. 29For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance. 30For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief: 31Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy. 32For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all. (Romans 11:11‑32)). Skipping over this present period, we see that Daniel’s prophecy indicates that Christ, the Messiah, would be “cut off” in death seven years (one week – Gen. 29:2727Fulfil her week, and we will give thee this also for the service which thou shalt serve with me yet seven other years. (Genesis 29:27); Num. 14:3434After the number of the days in which ye searched the land, even forty days, each day for a year, shall ye bear your iniquities, even forty years, and ye shall know my breach of promise. (Numbers 14:34); Ezek. 4:66And when thou hast accomplished them, lie again on thy right side, and thou shalt bear the iniquity of the house of Judah forty days: I have appointed thee each day for a year. (Ezekiel 4:6)) before God’s promises regarding the restoration and blessing of Israel would be fulfilled (Dan. 9:2424Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy. (Daniel 9:24)). Thus, He died in Israel’s last times.
The culmination of Christ’s redemptive work is not the cross and the grave, but what God has secured by raising Him from the dead and giving Him glory. This is God’s pledge that He will complete what He has purposed for our blessing in our glorification. Therefore, Peter says, “Who by Him do believe in God that raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God” (vs. 21).
(Chap. 1:22-25)
Peter passes on to another appellative. Believers on the Lord Jesus Christ are not only children in relation to the Father (vss. 14-21), but they are also “brethren” one of another in the household of faith (vss. 22-25). He says, “Having purified your souls by obedience to the truth to unfeigned love of the brethren, love one another out of a pure heart fervently; being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God which liveth and abideth forever.” Since these believers were now in a relationship with other believers of “like precious faith” (2 Peter 1:11Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ: (2 Peter 1:1)), their responsibility was to “love one another with a pure heart fervently.”
Peter tells them that there was no reason for their love not to flow out to their brethren with “unfeigned” sincerity, because their souls had been “purified” of every evil and unclean motive. Their purification was a result of their “obedience to the truth” of the gospel wherein they were saved by faith (vs. 22), and their obedience of faith had been affected by their “having been begotten again, not of corruptible seed but of incorruptible, through God’s living and abiding Word (vs. 23 – W. Kelly Trans.). Thus, the very life and nature of God which delights to love had been communicated to them. This means that they had the capacity to love their brethren with divine affection. Since the new life delights in love (1 John 4:88He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. (1 John 4:8)), all we need to do is “let” it express itself according to its inherent desires (Heb. 13:11Let brotherly love continue. (Hebrews 13:1)).
Christian love has a completely different reference point from what these converted Jews were familiar with in the old economy. Under the legal covenant, the point of reference was themselves. They were told, “Love thy neighbor as thyself” (Lev. 19:1818Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself: I am the Lord. (Leviticus 19:18); Matt. 19:19; 22:3919Honor thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. (Matthew 19:19)
39And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. (Matthew 22:39)
). But in Christianity, the reference point is Christ. We are to love each other as Christ has loved us. He said, “Love one another as I have loved you” (John 13:3434A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. (John 13:34)).
Vss. 24-25—Due to the divine life that we possess, our relationship with God and our brethren is eternal. The precious “seed” of the “incorruptible” Word which communicated divine life to us in new birth, will live and abide in us forever. Thus, we have an abiding and an eternal relationship with God and our brethren. In contrast to this, the natural man of this world who doesn’t have this life is like “the grass that withereth.” His life quickly passes, and if he has gained some worldly glory along the way, it falls with him like a “flower” that wilts. Such is the transience and emptiness of human life without Christ (Job 14:1-21Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble. 2He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down: he fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not. (Job 14:1‑2)).
Newborn Babes
(Chapter 2:1-3)
Peter goes on to speak of another thing. Christians are also viewed as “newborn babes,” and as such, they are to have a healthy appetite for the Word of God which will result in spiritual growth. He says, “Putting away therefore all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, as newborn babes, long for the intelligent milk [of the Word], that by it ye may grow unto salvation, if indeed ye have tasted that the Lord is good.” (W. Kelly Trans.).
In the last few verses of chapter 1, Peter spoke of how we received our new life—by being born again through the operation of the Word of God in our souls. Now in these verses, he speaks of how that life is sustained by that same instrument. The communication of life in our new birth was a sovereign act of God; we had nothing to do with it. But sustaining that life is something we have a responsible part in—by taking time to read the Word prayerfully.
It is interesting, and significant, that Peter begins by warning us of things that will hinder the natural desires of the new life which longs for the Word of God. He addresses this first because if we don’t deal with these things in self-judgment, they will hinder us from profiting from the Word, and this will stunt our spiritual growth. The things that he mentions in verse 1 are like weeds in our garden that choke out the growth of the plants. “Malice,” is harboring ill feelings towards others. “Guile,” is hiding our evil motives. “Hypocrisies,” are pretending to be something that we’re not. “Envies,” are outright hatred. “Evil speakings,” are purposely putting someone in a bad light when referring to him or her in the presence of others. Note: Peter speaks of these things in plurality. This shows that if we allow these evils in our lives, they will multiply, and it will not be long before we are characterized by them. They, therefore, absolutely must be put off in self-judgment if we expect to make spiritual progress. These things don’t drop off like autumn leaves; they must be cut off. Peter’s repeated use of the word “all” tells us that when judging ourselves as to these things, we need to get at the root of the evil, which may well be embedded in our hearts.
These sins are mentioned together because they are true bedfellows; in life they rarely appear alone (Titus 3:33For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. (Titus 3:3)). For instance, we may have hard feelings (malice) toward someone, but we hide it with guile. However, concealing something like this without judging it only means that it’s going to grow. While harbouring these bad feelings, we may carry on outwardly with an air of godliness before others, which is hypocrisy. With the thing left unjudged, our dislike of that person will turn into hatred that will manifest itself in speaking evil of them. These verses furnish us with one great reason as to why we don’t grow in divine things as we should. But we can be sure that when these ills are put out of our lives, the desires of the new life will quite naturally manifest themselves in fruit for God. One of the ways the new life will express itself is in having an appetite for the Word of God.
Peter uses the word “mental” here, because he is emphasizing the need for us to engage the rational faculties of our beings in quest of an “intelligent” understanding of the truth (vs. 2). Some decry a study of the Scriptures because it could turn into a mere intellectual approach to the truth. While there is a danger of this, it should not be used to excuse our lack of diligence in the Word. Let us never disparage a study of the Scriptures; observing and distinguishing the things that differ in the Word is how we grow in our understanding of the truth (2 Tim. 2:1515Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)). W. Kelly said, “It is needful to heed the distinctions made and given in Scriptures. Fear not to believe the Word. Cavaliers may and do say that these are fine-drawn distinctions ... ..We are bound to distinguish where and as God does; and if we fail to follow, we shall find out too late to our loss. The truth is that there is a great deal of latent unbelief in those who cavil at the distinctions of the Word of God, for all progress in real knowledge is tested by, as growth in true wisdom largely consists in, distinguishing things that differ” (A Study of the Minor Prophets, p. 260). Peter couldn’t have been encouraging a mere intellectual approach to the Word without the heart and conscience being engaged, because he speaks of it as being “milk,” which has to do with the soul being fed by it.
In speaking of “newborn babes,” Peter is not suggesting that we should be content to remain spiritually infantile for the rest of our lives; the whole point in the passage is that we might “grow up” and reach Christian maturity. He is not drawing our attention to the infancy of a baby, but rather, to a baby’s desire for its mother’s milk. It has a determined, almost aggressive craving for it. Likewise, we are to have that same craving for the mental milk of the Word. Peter’s point here is quite simple; as milk is the proper food for a newborn baby, so is the Word of God for the believer. Thirsting for the Word is something that should continue throughout our lives. Peter is not using the term “babes” in the sense in which Paul uses it in 1 Corinthians 3:1-41And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. 2I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. 3For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? 4For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal? (1 Corinthians 3:1‑4) and Hebrews 5:11-1411Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing. 12For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. 13For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. 14But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. (Hebrews 5:11‑14), where he speaks of spiritual babyhood as an undesirable state to be in due to carnality and the interference of earthly religion. Paul uses the term in a negative sense, whereas Peter uses it in a positive sense.
Spiritual growth is a lot more than academic learning—the amassing of Bible knowledge. It requires mental energy to “study” and to learn the truth (2 Tim. 2:1515Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)), but it also involves moral transformation through the Spirit’s work in us by which we are conformed to the image of Christ (Rom. 8:2929For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. (Romans 8:29); 2 Cor. 3:1818But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. (2 Corinthians 3:18)). Learning the truth in the sense that Peter is speaking of will have a moral and practical effect on our lives. He says that our spiritual growth will lead “to salvation”—that is, practical salvation. The principles we have learned in the Word are applied to our walk, and this results in practical deliverances from spiritual dangers in the path of faith (Psa. 17:44Concerning the works of men, by the word of thy lips I have kept me from the paths of the destroyer. (Psalm 17:4); 2 Tim. 3:1515And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. (2 Timothy 3:15)). Salvation, in its fullest sense, is complete conformity to Christ—in spirit, soul, and body. We will not attain this until the Lord comes. In the meantime, if we feed on the Word, we will grow morally toward that ultimate end.
Vs. 3—Peter adds, “If so be that ye have tasted that the Lord is good.” This statement shows how appetite is developed. We first “taste,” not exactly the Word, but “the Lord” in the Word (in the sense of fellowship with Him), and having experienced that He is indeed “good” and “sweet” in our meditation (Psa. 104:3434My meditation of him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the Lord. (Psalm 104:34)), we will want more of Him, and will go to the Scriptures to find Him (Psa. 119:103103How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth! (Psalm 119:103)). Thus, our spiritual appetite grows quite naturally when we judge ourselves (vs. 1) and when we give our new nature its proper food—the Word of God (vs. 2).
Living Stones & a Holy Priesthood
(Chapter 2:5-8)
Peter goes on to speak of another thing—Christians are viewed as living stones and holy priests in God’s house today. He says, “To whom coming, a living Stone, cast away indeed as worthless by men, but with God chosen, precious, yourselves also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” God has ordained that even though Christ has been rejected by men, He would be the foundation of a new company of believers that God has purposed for blessing—the Church of God. Peter does not speak of this new company as such, but rather, as a “spiritual house” that Christ is building in this world. As the “Living Stone,” He is building upon Himself a spiritual house composed of believers who are themselves “living stones” in the structure. This, again, would be something completely new to the Jewish mind.
Peter hastens to add that while Christ is rejected of men, He is “precious” indeed to God (vs. 4). (He is “precious” to the saints too vs. 7.) The fact that the “Corner Stone” of the structure is rejected of men (vs. 6), indicates that everything to do with this house will not be popular in this world. All who are a part of the structure will be rejected as Christ is rejected. Consequently, every believer needs to be prepared to suffer reproach and persecution for the name of Christ (2 Tim. 3:1212Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. (2 Timothy 3:12)). It is normal Christianity.
We can see from verses 4-5, that Peter never forgot what the Lord taught him at Caesarea Philippi concerning the building of His Church (Matt. 16:16-1816And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. 17And 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. 18And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:16‑18)). On that occasion, the Lord spoke of Himself as the “Rock” upon which this new building would be fitly framed. A number of other New Testament passages also confirm that believers on the Lord Jesus Christ constitute God’s house in this present dispensation (1 Cor. 3:9-179For we are laborers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building. 10According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. 11For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; 13Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. 14If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. 15If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire. 16Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? 17If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are. (1 Corinthians 3:9‑17); Eph. 2:20-2220And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; 21In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: 22In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:20‑22); 1 Tim. 3:15; 215But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. (1 Timothy 3:15)
15Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety. (1 Timothy 2:15)
Tim. 2:20; Heb. 3:66But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end. (Hebrews 3:6); 1 Peter 4:1717For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? (1 Peter 4:17)). This means that God’s house today is not a material building, built with brick and mortar, as was the case in the old economy, but a spiritual building composed of believers. The stones are “living” because they partake of the life of Christ, who is the “Living Stone.”
Moreover, the priests in this spiritual house are believers on the Lord Jesus Christ—the same persons as the living stones. Peter calls them “a holy priesthood.” We learn from this that all Christians are “priests” in this Dispensation of Grace (Rev. 1:6; 5:106And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. (Revelation 1:6)
10And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth. (Revelation 5:10)
). As such, we have access into the presence of God with a liberty that no son of Aaron ever had in the old economy (Heb. 10:19-2219Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; 21And having an high priest over the house of God; 22Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. (Hebrews 10:19‑22)). Moreover, the kind of sacrifices that we offer are altogether different from what the priests in the Old Testament offered. Those priests presented animal sacrifices, and certain grains and fruits; whereas, in Christianity, the priests offer up “spiritual sacrifices” aided “by Jesus Christ,” our High Priest (John. 4:23-24; Heb. 10:2121And having an high priest over the house of God; (Hebrews 10:21)). The fact that He is a “High” Priest indicates that He has a caste of priests who function under Him.
We might ask, “What exactly are these spiritual sacrifices that believers offer today?” The New Testament epistles indicate that there are three different kinds of Christian sacrifices:
Sadly, the churches of Christendom have misunderstood these New Testament passages that teach that God’s house in this day is a spiritual building. Consequently, men have built magnificent cathedrals and temples for Christian worship—and they call those buildings “God’s house!” They have also set up a caste of men (the clergy—so-called Ministers and Pastors) to conduct the services on behalf of those who attend the meetings. This order may be well-intended, but it is a practical denial of the true priesthood of all believers. This is an order that has been borrowed from Judaism and not at all what Scripture teaches for Christian worship.
Vss. 6-7a—Peter then quotes from the prophet Isaiah to show that it is God’s intention that Christ would be the foundation of blessing for all His people—whether it is Israel, or the Church of God, or the Gentiles in the millennial kingdom. He says, “Behold, I lay in Sion a chief Corner Stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on Him shall not be confounded” (Isa. 28:1616Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste. (Isaiah 28:16)). Thus, Christ is the Center and Foundation of everything that God is doing (and will do) in this world for man’s blessing. All who “believe on Him shall not be put to shame.” They prove through the experience of walking in fellowship with Him that “He is precious” indeed.
Vss. 7b-8—Peter then speaks of those who will not believe. He adds, “But unto them which be disobedient [disbelieving], the Stone which the builders disallowed [cast away], the same is made the Head of the Corner [the Corner Stone], and a Stone of stumbling, and a Rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the Word, being disobedient: whereunto they were appointed.” Thus, we see that Christ is viewed as a Stone in two ways. To those who “believe,” He is the “Corner Stone” of blessing in this new work of God’s grace going on today. But to the “disbelieving,” such as the Jewish builders who disallowed Christ as the nation’s Messiah, He is a “Stone of stumbling and a Rock of offence.” Those who stumble in unbelief will have that Stone fall upon them in judgment (Matt. 21:4444And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder. (Matthew 21:44)). This would be the sad portion of the fellow countrymen of these believing Jews to whom Peter was writing, if they remained in unbelief.
A Chosen Race & a Royal Priesthood
(Chapter 2:9-10)
Peter passes on to consider another thing; believers on the Lord Jesus Christ are also viewed as a chosen race and a royal priesthood. He says: “Ye are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for a possession, that ye might set forth the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness to His wonderful [marvelous] light; who were not a people, but now God’s people; who were not enjoying mercy, but now have found mercy.” This, too, would be something new to those who had converted to Christianity from Judaism. Under the old covenant, Israel was God’s chosen race (Ex. 19:55Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: (Exodus 19:5); Deut. 7:66For thou art an 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. (Deuteronomy 7:6); Amos 3:22You only have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities. (Amos 3:2)), but now, with the coming of Christianity, those who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ are God’s “chosen race,” His “holy nation,” and His “people for a possession.” What is most striking about this new company of blessed persons is that it is composed of both Jews and Gentiles! (1 Cor. 12:1313For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. (1 Corinthians 12:13); Eph. 2:11-22; 3:611Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; 12That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: 13But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. 14For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; 15Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; 16And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: 17And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. 18For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. 19Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; 20And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; 21In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: 22In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:11‑22)
6That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel: (Ephesians 3:6)
) How strange and different this must have been to these Jewish saints, for under the old covenant they were to keep themselves separate from Gentiles!
God’s plan was to have the Israelites as His “witnesses” on earth (Isa. 43:10, 2110Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. (Isaiah 43:10)
21This people have I formed for myself; they shall show forth my praise. (Isaiah 43:21)
; Jer. 13:1111For as the girdle cleaveth to the loins of a man, so have I caused to cleave unto me the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah, saith the Lord; that they might be unto me for a people, and for a name, and for a praise, and for a glory: but they would not hear. (Jeremiah 13:11)). Had the builders received Christ as their Messiah, He would have showered the nation with millennial blessings as stated in the writings of the Old Testament prophets. But since they rejected Him, the nation had been temporarily set aside (Dan. 9:2626And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. (Daniel 9:26); Micah 5:1-31Now gather thyself in troops, O daughter of troops: he hath laid siege against us: they shall smite the judge of Israel with a rod upon the cheek. 2But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting. 3Therefore will he give them up, until the time that she which travaileth hath brought forth: then the remnant of his brethren shall return unto the children of Israel. (Micah 5:1‑3); Zech. 11:10-1410And I took my staff, even Beauty, and cut it asunder, that I might break my covenant which I had made with all the people. 11And it was broken in that day: and so the poor of the flock that waited upon me knew that it was the word of the Lord. 12And I said unto them, If ye think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver. 13And the Lord said unto me, Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prised at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the Lord. 14Then I cut asunder mine other staff, even Bands, that I might break the brotherhood between Judah and Israel. (Zechariah 11:10‑14), etc.) and believers on the Lord Jesus Christ have taken Israel’s place as God’s vessel of testimony on earth (Rom. 11:1717And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree; (Romans 11:17)). As His chosen race, Christians are now His witnesses (John 15:2727And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning. (John 15:27)), and as such they are to “set forth the excellencies [praises] of Him” who has called them “out of darkness to His wonderful [marvelous] light.”
This does not mean that the Church is the new Israel, or a new phase in Israel’s history. This is an erroneous doctrine of Reformed (Covenant) Theology. The Church and Israel have not merged into one company, as those theologians teach. In the purpose and ways of God, the Church and redeemed Israel are two entirely different companies of blessed persons. Their portions of blessing and their respective callings and destinies (earthly and heavenly) and their relationships with God are distinctly different. In God’s present dealings in grace through the gospel, Jewish believers on the Lord Jesus Christ have been “taken out from among the people” of Israel (Acts 26:1717Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, (Acts 26:17)) and made part of the Church of God—but Israel still remains as a distinct company of people on earth. Likewise, God, by the gospel, is visiting the Gentiles to “take out of them a people for His name” (Acts 15:1414Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. (Acts 15:14)); those who believe have also become part of the Church—but the Gentile nations still remain intact on earth. Thus, believing Jews and Gentiles have been taken out of their former positions and are no longer such in Christianity (Gal. 3:2828There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28); Col. 3:1111Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all. (Colossians 3:11)).
In Romans 11, Paul states that the setting aside of Israel is neither full nor final (vss. 1-5). It is not fully set aside because there is “a remnant according to the election of grace” which is getting saved today, and thus, is now part of the Church of God. Paul points to himself as being an example. The nation’s setting aside is not final either; Israel will not be cast off forever. God has not been thwarted in His purpose regarding them; He will take up with them again in a coming day, and they will be blessed according to the writings of their prophets. When “the fulness of the Gentiles be come in”—which is God’s present work among the Gentiles in calling believers out of them by the gospel to form the Church (Acts 15:1414Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. (Acts 15:14))—“all Israel” (that is, those who have not only Abraham’s blood, but His faith also) “shall be saved” (Rom. 9:6-8; 11:25-276Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: 7Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. 8That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed. (Romans 9:6‑8)
25For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. 26And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: 27For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. (Romans 11:25‑27)
This new company of believers is not only a chosen race and a holy nation, they are royal priests. Connecting verses 5 and 9, we see that Christians have a double priesthood. It is a “holy priesthood” in reference to our liberty to approach God in praise and prayer, and it is a “royal [kingly] priesthood” in regard to our testimony before the world. Melchisedec exhibits this double priesthood. He was fit to enter the presence of God with offerings as a holy priest and he was also a king who reigned in Jerusalem (Gen. 14:1818And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. (Genesis 14:18); Heb. 7:11For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him; (Hebrews 7:1)).
Some modern translations render the words “show forth,” as “proclaim,” which implies gospel preaching, but that is not really the thought in the passage. W. Kelly says, “It is not, of course, preaching the gospel to the lost that they might be saved” (The Epistles of Peter, p. 141). J. N. Darby says that it has more to do with us reproducing in our walk and ways the “virtues” of Him who has called us—which is the marginal reading in the KJV. (The Synopsis of the Books of the Bible, Loizeaux edition, p. 441). Note: Peter says that the state which these Jewish believers were in before they believed the gospel was that of “darkness.” Even though Judaism was a divinely ordained system, in the hands of evil men it had deteriorated into a religion of darkness. The nation had rejected Christ, the Light of the world (John 1:7; 8:12; 9:57The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. (John 1:7)
12Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. (John 8:12)
5As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world. (John 9:5)
), and as a result, they had become governmentally benighted (Psa. 69:22-2322Let their table become a snare before them: and that which should have been for their welfare, let it become a trap. 23Let their eyes be darkened, that they see not; and make their loins continually to shake. (Psalm 69:22‑23)). With the coming in of Christianity, the darkness is past, and the true light is now shining (1 John 2:88Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth. (1 John 2:8)).
Verse 10, indicates that since the nation of Israel is presently in the state of “Lo-ammi” (Hosea 1:99Then said God, Call his name Lo-ammi: for ye are not my people, and I will not be your God. (Hosea 1:9)), that these Jewish believers who have “pre-trusted” in Christ before the remnant of the nation believes in a coming day (Eph. 1:1212That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. (Ephesians 1:12)), can, in principle, apply Hosea 2:2323And I will sow her unto me in the earth; and I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy; and I will say to them which were not my people, Thou art my people; and they shall say, Thou art my God. (Hosea 2:23) (which views believing Jews as “My people”) to themselves. They were once among those who are “not a people,” but now they are “the people of God.” It is interesting that while Peter applies the passage in Hosea to believing Jews today, Paul applies the same passage to believing Gentiles today (Rom. 11:24-2624For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert graffed contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be graffed into their own olive tree? 25For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. 26And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: (Romans 11:24‑26)). Hence, believers from both the Jews and the Gentiles have been called out of their previous positions to be part of a new company of blessed persons, known as the Church of God (Acts 15:14; 26:1714Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. (Acts 15:14)
17Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, (Acts 26:17)
). Such is the present position on earth of Jewish and Gentile believers.
Verses 9-10, simply teach that God has a new vessel of testimony on earth—the Church. It is not an extension of Israel; it is an altogether new thing. These things are important for Jewish converts to know, both then and now.
Strangers and Pilgrims
(Chapter 2:11-17)
Lastly, Peter speaks of believers on the Lord Jesus Christ as strangers and pilgrims. He says, “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; having your conversation honest among the Gentiles; that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.” A “stranger” is a foreigner; one who is not indigenous to the place where he dwells. Accordingly, the Christian’s home is not here on earth. We are “in the world,” but we are not “of the world” (John 16:33; 17:14-1633These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)
14I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 15I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. 16They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. (John 17:14‑16)
). A “pilgrim” is one who is on a journey. In our case, we are passing through this world on the path of faith on our way home to heaven. Hence, a stranger is one who is not at home and a pilgrim is one who is on his way home.
Peter proceeds to give three short injunctions pertaining to the conduct that is required of strangers and pilgrims.
The first is to “abstain from fleshly lusts.” As Christians, we must be careful not to adopt the morals of the lost people among whom we live. It is imperative that we judge ourselves in this regard, because these lusts not only “war against the soul” and hinder our communion with God, but they also spoil our testimony before the world. Needless to say, having our “conversation honest among the Gentiles” is extremely important. If the lusts of the flesh are manifested in a believer’s life, the world will be quick to pick up on it and use it to cast reproach upon the name of Christ and to “speak against” Christians as “evildoers.” We must, therefore, live in such a way that we are consistent inwardly with what we profess to be outwardly, so that the world can find no spot on us with which to accuse us (Eccl. 9:88Let thy garments be always white; and let thy head lack no ointment. (Ecclesiastes 9:8)).
As mentioned, the best way to answer the accusations and criticisms of the world is to live a godly life that cannot be justly spoken against. Peter says that if we live a life of consistent “good works” before men, they will take note that we genuinely care for the welfare of our fellow man. And, when trouble comes into their lives by way of a governmental “visitation” from God, they may turn to a believer for help and comfort, and in doing so, they in a sense, “glorify God.” This does not mean that they will necessarily turn to Christ and get saved (though some do), but by turning to God’s people for answers and help, they are acknowledging that God’s favour and blessing is with Christians, and this brings glory to God. See Matthew 5:1616Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 5:16).
Vss. 13-17—The second injunction for those passing through this world as strangers and pilgrims is submission to civil authorities. Peter says, “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether to the king as supreme, or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: as free, and not using your liberty for a cloak of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.” This exhortation has to do with the Christian’s responsibility to live peacefully, honourably, and lawfully under “the powers that be”—the civil governments (Rom. 13:11Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. (Romans 13:1)). Christians are not part of this world, but this does not mean that they don’t have to “submit” to the ordinances (the laws and by-laws) established by the governments of the world in the lands in which they live. They still live in the world, and therefore, must obey “every ordinance of man.” This would be everything from paying taxes to obeying the speed limit signs on the highway, etc.
Human governments have been established by God to check and restrain evil (Gen. 9:5-65And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man's brother will I require the life of man. 6Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man. (Genesis 9:5‑6); Rom. 13:1-71Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. 2Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. 3For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: 4For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. 5Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. 6For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. 7Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor. (Romans 13:1‑7); 2 Thess. 2:66And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. (2 Thessalonians 2:6)). Peter states this in verse 14. The fact that some rulers may act contrary to the divine ideal does not mean that we are absolved of our responsibility to obey “the powers that be” (Rom. 13:11Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. (Romans 13:1)). If they demand obedience in something which violates the Christian’s conscience, then that is a different matter. When that is the case, we must obey a “higher” power yet—God Himself (Eccl. 5:88If thou seest the oppression of the poor, and violent perverting of judgment and justice in a province, marvel not at the matter: for he that is higher than the highest regardeth; and there be higher than they. (Ecclesiastes 5:8); Acts 5:2929Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men. (Acts 5:29)). All human government has some imperfection, but without its restraint, anarchy would prevail; therefore, we should be thankful for whatever kind of government we have. The governments of men in various countries are generally helpful to those who wish to do what is right. Peter states this in verse 14b. The reason why it is important for us to submit to every ordinance of man is to take away any occasion that the world might otherwise have to accuse us of wrongdoing. We are, therefore, to be loyal subjects of the state “for the Lord’s sake,” and should remember at all times that we bear His name before the world.
Since Christians are merely passing through this world as strangers and pilgrims, there is no exhortation in the New Testament that encourages us to take a position in government or to involve ourselves in the political affairs of this world. We are citizens of another country above (Phil. 3:2020For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: (Philippians 3:20)), and this makes us strangers and pilgrims here below. We, therefore, should leave the political struggles of the world to the men of the world (Isa. 45:99Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou? or thy work, He hath no hands? (Isaiah 45:9)).
Vss. 15-16—As Christians, we will inevitably be criticized by the world through which we pass, but as mentioned, if we live in subjection to the civil authorities, we can “put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.” Like Daniel in Babylon, the world will have nothing in which to justly condemn us (Dan. 6:44Then the presidents and princes sought to find occasion against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find none occasion nor fault; forasmuch as he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him. (Daniel 6:4)). We have been set “free” from the whole course of the world through our redemption in Christ (Gal. 1:44Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father: (Galatians 1:4)), but we are not to use our “liberty” as a “cloak” for the flesh. “Free” does not mean that we are free to sin; Christian freedom is not a pretext for Christians to do evil. Rather, we are free to use our energies to serve the Lord as “the servants of God.”
Vs. 17—The general tendency of the Jews dispersed among the Gentiles was to resent the heathen authorities over them. In view of this, Peter brings in a third injunction: “Honour all men, love the brotherhood, fear God, honour the king.” As believers on the Lord Jesus Christ, we are to live honourably and peaceably amongst the lost persons with whom we live and work (Rom. 12:1818If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. (Romans 12:18); 1 Tim. 2:1-21I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; 2For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. (1 Timothy 2:1‑2)). We must be careful not to “speak evil of dignitaries” (2 Peter 2:1010But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, selfwilled, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities. (2 Peter 2:10); Jude 88Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities. (Jude 8)). If God is feared, the king will be honoured, the brethren will be loved, and men generally will be respected. This is how we are to pass through this world as strangers and pilgrims. J. N. Darby said, “Say little, serve all, and pass on. This is true greatness; to work unnoticed, and to serve unseen.” Summarizing our responsibility toward the powers that be, we are to pray, pay, and obey.
Summary of the Christian Appellatives
•  As Children—we are to walk in holiness.
•  As Brethren—we are to love one another with a pure heart fervently.
•  As New-born Babes—we are to desire the mental milk of the Word that we may grow spiritually.
•  As Living Stones & a Holy Priesthood—we are to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
•  As a Chosen Race & a Royal Priesthood—we are to exhibit the moral excellencies of Christ before the world.
•  As Strangers & Pilgrims—we are to pass through this world obeying its rulers and submitting to their earthly ordinances.