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Chapter 2 Verses 21-25

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The unmerited, unfathomed suffering which He bore without sin makes Him a peerless examplar. More than once the life of this unique One has been brought forward as a model by Scripture. But it serves thus only for believers, since they alone can attain to great heights of character. To all others His career must bring condemnation, as to those who fall short of perfection and purity.

Verse 21

1:15–17 identified God the Father as the holy One who invites men to be saved. Then 2:9–10 pointed out how He calls men from darkness and sin to His marvellous light and holiness. Thereby the Christian is said to possess holiness acceptable to God. That exalted position he occupies because of grace. But there is more to the efficacious call than a favorable position, 2:21 is prepared to add. It also introduces the Christian to suffering, bitter suffering, along with Christ who wrought his salvation upon a cross. ἐκλήθητε is written in the aorist tense just like the related words for calling in 1:15 and 2:9 ; hence becomes an allusion, jointly with them, to the conversion appeal come from God which the readers had experienced. For parallel Scriptures on the intimate connection between salvation and

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trial see Philippians 1:29 , “Unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake”; Romans 8:17 ; 2 Timothy 2:12 ; etc.

One reason to explain why persecution must be endured is given by the apostle at once: “because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps.” The teaching on Christ as an example should be ascertained carefully. At the outset, the words of one expositor may guide the way to sound interpretation: “But Jesus is not only our great example. Discipleship never became Peter’s gospel. The example of Jesus was not the message which Peter preached at Pentecost. What made that message so clear and convincing, turning thousands to repentance and faith, was the Gospel of the Shepherd of our souls who atones. Peter had been a follower of Christ as a disciple, and he had denied him. In his words (v. 25 ) there is a recollection of a great experience ( Luke 22:60–62 ) which had saved him. Who but Peter would write with so much feeling the words but now are returned to the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls? He had learned that the Gospel is, who his own self bore our sins in his body upon the tree .” 1 So the Galilean preached a gospel of saving grace, not of human striving. In confirmation, observe verse 24 below, together with 1:18–19 ; 2:6–7 ; 3:18ff and kindred verses from other apostles as well as Peter. The New Testament is certain to make a distinction, then, between what Christ endured before the cross and on it. In the former and only therein will Christians discover a pattern for their conduct; in the latter and nowhere else, the means of salvation.

Hart and Alford differ in their understanding of καὶ , the one connecting it with the subject and the other linking it with the predicate of the causal clause. It would seem more natural to join the conjunction with Christ , the subject, if any significance must be attached to the Greek word order. According to Hart the clause would read: “Christ also , as

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well as you slaves, felt the sting of cruel persecution.” Alford, however, interprets it to mean that Christ suffered also by way of example, in addition to dying for sin. At all events, for you must not be taken to connote substitution in verse 21 . Often the phrase does bear this meaning, but here the context will forbid such a sense. ὑπὲρ will rather emphasize benefit and advantage , in line with its basic force as a preposition. Robertson notices a word picture behind ὑπογραμμὸν , because the papyri show many examples of this verbal root in the sense of copying a letter. Clement of Alexandria, to name one early writer, used it of the copyhead at the top of a child’s exercise book for the child to imitate, including all the letters in the alphabet. As for ἐπακολουθήσητε , Peter could hardly have employed a term like that without having his mind flooded with memories. Compare the related word for follow in Matthew 4:20 ; 16:24 ; John 21:19 .

Verse 22

Verses 22 and 23 append a brief description of Christ and His suffering. Was the attack against Him merited or unmerited? The twenty-second verse is given over to defending His innocence, a guiltlessness both in word and deed. First of all, judgment has been passed upon the actions: “who did no sin.” Peter well knew, of course, that the Tempter had approached this holy One. Yes, had he not himself played into the hands of Satan and personally been the channel for one sore temptation-there in the coasts of Caesarea Philippi? Both Matthew and Mark record the way it happened. He, as chief among the Twelve, had led his companions in recognizing and confessing the Messiahship of Christ, when he said, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And in swift reply the Lord had focused all eyes upon Peter with the words: “Blessed are thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And 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. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven...” From that time forth, however, the Son of man found

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it needful to announce His plan to die in disgrace and rise again, the third day. -That happen to the Son of David, anointed to rule the earth? Not if Peter could intervene! So the loyal apostle “took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee. But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men” ( Matt 16:16ff ). Beside this test from the evil one, Christ “was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” ( Heb 4:15 ). Furthermore He lived no cloistered life “far from the madding crowd’s ignoble strife,” an ascetic rather than a servant of mankind, quite detached from the world and its contaminations. So far from that, the Savior proved a veritable friend of sinners. In this connection Simon Peter must have had a precious memory written on his heart, of how the Good Shepherd had restored his soul upon the lake shore, one early morning before ascension, following his threefold denial on the eve of crucifixion ( John 21 ). To quote a portion from the touching incident,

“So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. He saith unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things, thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep” (verses 15–17 ).

Besides, Jesus Christ demonstrated a divine hatred for sin in all of its forms, whether Pharisaical or sordid. Perhaps the author of verse 22 was thinking, as he wrote, about the time His Master confronted the Jerusalem scribes and Pharisees, only to expose their proud self-righteousness to the people they aspired to lead in religion. These ambitious men had just accosted the Messiah with the question, “Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread” ( Matt 15:2 ). But He turned at once upon them with another question, “Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?”, and followed with the condemnation, “Ye hypocrites,

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well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” Later, the apostle Peter inquired what was meant by the parable used in this public rebuke. The full answer deserves citation:

“And Jesus said, Are ye also yet without understanding? Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man; but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man” ( Matt 15:16–20 ).

“Neither was guile found in his mouth,” verse 22 continues, referring to the sinless speech and attitude of Christ. Both statements in the verse, then, have been accompanied by a negative. The reason no doubt will lie in the fact that some men have done something good and sometimes uttered pure words, but no man ever has equaled or will match the guiltless record of this Sufferer, who never did veer away from fellowship with the Father ( Matt 27:46 excepted; still, cf. 2 Cor 5:19 ). Not even the bitterest enemy could find deceit in Messiah’s life. Peter had seen the trial before Caiaphas and the council, where witness after witness was put on the stand in an effort to discover some basis for accusation ( Matt 26:57ff ). There the attempt proved vain until false witness was secured. Even then it took time to locate two falsifiers who could somewhat agree upon a damaging statement (cf. Mark 14:59 ). Once before, these same Pharisees and priests had attempted to bring Jesus Christ up to trial. Something happened, however, to the officers sent to arrest Him. They returned empty handed, their only explanation for failure: “Never man spake like this man.” The Fourth Gospel reports the sequel thus:

“Then answered them the Pharisees, Are ye also deceived? Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed on him? But this people who knoweth not the law are cursed. Nicodemus saith unto them, (he that came to Jesus by night, being one of them,) Doth our law judge any man, before it hear him, and know what he doeth? They answered and said unto him, Art thou also of Galilee? Search, and look: for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet” ( John 7:46–53 ).

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Such men as the Pharisees condemned Jesus of Nazareth with the epithet “that deceiver” ( Matt 27:63 ), only they never were able to prove the assertion. On the other hand, men like Peter had learned better. An incident recorded by the apostle John reveals that. After the sermon wherein Christ proclaimed Himself the Bread of Life, many among the Lord’s disciples went back and walked no more with Him. Such a crisis prompted the query to the Twelve, “Will ye also go away?” The answer which was forthcoming arose on the lips of Simon Peter: “Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God” ( John 6:68–69 ). 1 Peter 2:22 , therefore, must be only one among many testimonies from the fisherman apostle with reference to the speech of Jesus Christ. Incidentally, verse 22 is quoted from the famous fifty-third chapter in Isaiah’s prophecy, “the golden Passional of the Old Testament.” Compare 1 Peter 1:19 .

Verse 23

Not only was the suffering in Messiah’s life undeserved (ver. 22 ), but also it was all endured without complaint (ver. 23 ). Endurance of unmerited punishment is thereby illustrated in full by the life of Christ (ver. 21 ). Just as verse 22 sketched a picture of the Sufferer who was righteous both in word and deed, so the twenty-third verse treats its subject, namely, His endurance, both from the angle of word and action. First it has the word-mockery to mention: “who when he was reviled, reviled not again.” The root of λοιδορούμενος and ἀντελοιδόρει is employed but once by the Gospels and then with no allusion to Jesus Christ. But Matthew and Mark do use synonyms in connection with the abuse heaped upon the Lamb of God. Peter may have chosen this more unusual term because of an expressive play in words which it made possible: the basic root followed immediately by a compound thereof with ἀντί . At other times he turns readily enough to the two words adopted by Matthew and Mark. Since the anti compound seems to be of late and rare usage in Greek, it would suggest

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a certain breadth of vocabulary for either the writer or his amanuensis. Both words, however, will express repeated acts, as over against the emphasis in verse 22 upon the single act-Christ never having sinned once . Long, uninterrupted forbearance is meant by the main verbs of verse 23 , since they are all written in the imperfect tense.

When was Messiah reviled? Matthew 27:39 notes that He was scorned while hanging upon the cross; similarly, Mark 15:32 . But the two passages do not parallel each other in all points. In Matthew the first blasphemers mentioned are from the rabble who passed by. Now that they had secured the execution of this innocent One, they walked past the silent figure in unconscious fulfilment of prophecy ( Ps 22:7–8 ; 109:25 ). And what they called out to Christ surely was blasphemy: “Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross” (ver. 40 ). Proof that the mocking crowd was affiliated with those who had brought about the crucifixion may appear from the first words uttered. They indicate a knowledge of the charges leveled against Messiah before Caiaphas. The sarcastic “Save thyself” is recorded in all the Synoptics. Likewise the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, had evil words to hurl at the Sufferer: “He saved others: himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. He trusted in God: let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God” (verses 42–43 ). Their derisive thrust-“Himself he cannot save”-has been set down by all three Synoptics. Plummer comments here upon the whole speech:

“This sarcasm, with its sequel, ‘Himself He cannot save,’ though spoken in mockery, was both true and also a great glory. The mockers were among those whom He was dying to save; and He could not come down from the cross and save Himself, because He was held, not by nails, but by His will to save them.” 2

With the derision of the religious authorities, strangely enough, even the thieves were in hearty accord. Luke,

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however, has it to report that one malefactor forsook his past ways and received everlasting pardon from the One he had first blasphemed ( 24:39–43 ). The Third Gospel also is alone in revealing how the soldiers added their mockery to that of the Jews. Yet when the centurion beheld the death which Christ died, another remarkable change of heart was experienced on Calvary. He “glorified God, saying, Certainly this was a righteous man.” In addition, “all the people that came together to that sight, beholding the things which were done, smote their breasts, and returned” ( 24:47–48 ). Rabble, ruler, and soldier had reviled the Lord Jesus Christ that day, but He reviled not again. Compare Isaiah 53:7 . Rather were His eye and ear alert to catch the first indication of saving faith, and welcome another man to Paradise.

In passing, it should be made clear that the exegesis of verse 23 thus far, by which Christ’s example and the suffering on the cross are linked together, does not endanger a conclusion expressed above when interpreting verse 21 , namely, “The New Testament is certain to make a distinction between what Christ endured before the cross and on it. In the former and only therein will Christians discover a pattern for their conduct; in the latter and nowhere else, the means of salvation.” What was intended there in alluding to the cross, was the redemptive activity thereon-the distinctive work of Calvary whereby the Father made His Son an offering for sin and as a result the Latter had to agonize, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” ( Matt 27:46 ).

“When he suffered, he threatened not,” verse 23 further testifies to the Mediator. πάσχων is joined with Christ several different times in the Gospels: Matthew 16:21 ( Mark 8:31 ; Luke 9:22 ); 17:12 ( Mark 9:12 ); Luke 17:25 ; 22:15 ; 24:26 , 46 . None of these occurrences, to be sure, refer to incidents; instead they are the times our Lord prophesied or discussed the cross with others. As real suffering was undergone, no threat issued from the Lamb of God. (But some among the Christian martyrs found it difficult to abstain from menacing speech, one commentator observes, before quoting an illustrative passage out of the Passio S. Perpetuae .) Early in the Galilean ministry, for example, fellow townsmen of Christ thrust Him away from Nazareth, leading Him to the brow of the hill that they might cast Him down headlong. “But he passing through the midst of them went his way” ( Luke 4:30 ). Later, a Jerusalem audience took up stones to throw

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at Him. “But Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by” ( John 8:59 )-no threatening words to leave behind, either time. All the indignity, pain, and exhausting demands made upon the Sufferer about to die were also unable to elicit one threat from Him. “Jesus held his peace”; “he answered nothing”; “he answered him to never a word; insomuch that the governor marvelled greatly” ( Matt 26:63 ; 27:12 , 14 ). Infinite forbearing! Divine enduring!

On the negative side, God’s Lamb persevered by maintaining a grave silence and humility. But there is more to His example than that. Part of His secret or method for overcoming injustice appears in verse 23 at the close: “but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously.” Self-committal to God will constitute the positive attitude adopted by Christ the sufferer, judging at least from the Authorized and Revised Versions. In the margin another possible rendition of παρεδίδου has been noted: committed his cause .

Fault, however, has been found with this translation because in judicial phrases the object of the verb always seems to be personal. What occasions any difficulty in exegesis, of course, is omission of this object. The present verb has been used commonly of handing persons over to a judge. And just so Peter’s words have been understood, as if he meant that Messiah committed the persecutors to God for judgment. Nevertheless Bigg may have more right on his side when he flatly rejects any such elucidation (but cf. Alford): “The whole drift of the passage forbids this interpretation, and there is nothing in the word paradidonai itself to imply that the person handed over is guilty. It is better therefore to render ‘committed Himself.’” 3

Robertson compares Luke 23:46 , while Hart relates the phrase to a familiar Hebrew ellipsis, גל אל יהוה ( Ps 22:8 ). All four Gospels have employed paradidonai , and frequently with a reference to Christ and His betrayal-Judas handing Him over to the Jews. So John 19:30 may be the one verse at all parallel with 1 Peter 2:23 . And there the object is not “himself,” but the synonymous phrase, “his spirit” (A.S.V.).

Three thoughts are enfolded within Peter’s witness concerning Jesus Christ as One persevering: the repose of faith (“committed himself”) the Object of faith (“him that

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judgeth”), and the character of the Object (“righteously”). In suffering and prosperity alike the Son of man did not act independently. So when injustice crushed His life out, He but continued to live in obedience to God, on the principle of faith according to His human nature and on the principle of voluntary subjection according to His divine nature. Have not the Scriptures declared unequivocally: “Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord” ( Rom 12:19 ; Deut 32:35–36 )? Therefore the Son did not have to avenge Himself, nor was He at liberty to do so. The Object of His faith, however, would do the judging. As man’s creator He is obliged to keep order and dispense justice. He may not punish the guilty at once, still His punishments are sure to come ( Rev 20:11–15 ). And righteous will all His judgments be ( Gen 18:25 ). How comforting this truth can become to the oppressed! Their only concern need be to prove acceptable before the Judge of all the earth, since the case rests ultimately in His good hands and not in man’s. If God be for them, who can be against them through eternity? Meanwhile, too, His strength and grace will sustain, as the apostle Peter informs man in the exhortation: ”[keep] casting all your care upon him, for he careth for you” ( 1 Pet 5:7 ).

Thus has Messiah been held up to sufferers as an example. When the world talks glibly of “following the lowly Nazarene,” little do they reckon on a path like this one described by Peter. Nevertheless here is presented stark reality, the true Christ, and the truly Christian life. The same Paul who exclaimed “To live is Christ,” remember, also wrote: “for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ.”

Dallas, Texas

(To be continued in the October-December Number, 1942)


Exegetical Studies in 1 Peter
Part 10
John Henry Bennetch

(Continued from the July-September Number, 1942)

The Vicarious Sacrifice of Christ

How is it possible to follow the example set by Jesus Christ? 1 Peter 2:21–23 has just held up His life as a model for Christian slaves to emulate, if they suffered abuse from cruel masters. So it remains for the apostle to inform his readers how they can rise to the supreme heights which Messiah attained, when He offered no reply or retaliation in the face of barbarous treatment.

Verse 24

Christ-like character is achieved only when the power of sin has been broken. In consequence, Peter speaks at once about the deliverance from condemnation which Christians enjoy because of Calvary. His words, “who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree,” indicate how salvation was ever won. It meant a vicarious death for Christ, the Lord’s Anointed.

The sentence structure here demonstrates a close connection of thought with the preceding. Both verse 22 and 23 were relative clauses, explaining the nature of the standards maintained by the Messiah. They began, accordingly, with ὅς . Likewise the two chief clauses in verse 24 commence with the relative, hos ; in the second instance, however, the genitive case of hos appears.

This is not the first time that Peter has mentioned the saving work of Christ in 1 Peter. Hitherto, at 1:18ff , the reminder had been given, “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold from your vain conversation received by tradition from

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your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ....” Chapter 1 , evidently, teaches that aspect of salvation truth known as redemption . With chapter 2 another aspect will become manifest, that of propitiation ; “who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree.” 3:18ff , the final reference afforded by 1 Peter, may elucidate the third familiar aspect in the doctrine- reconciliation ; “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God....” Thus the Cross was “a propitiation toward God; a reconciliation toward man; and a redemption toward sin.” 1 The writer has thereby surveyed the whole scope of salvation in his first epistle, so far as deliverance from wrath is concerned.

2:24 resembles Isaiah 53:13 in its verbiage, since Calvary has proved the fulfilment of ancient prophecy. One word carried over from the Septuagint version of Isaiah is αὐτὸς . An intensive pronoun here, this word makes it emphatic that Christ and He alone brought salvation to man. Other New Testament portions also using the word to draw attention to the Savior are Ephesians 2:14–18 ; 4:10ff ; 5:23 , 27 ; Col 1:17–18 ; 1 John 2:2 . Compare Hebrews 1:3 .

Kelly has excelled in interpreting the word ἀνήνεγκεν , another term taken from the Old Testament prophet. Both our text and Hebrews 9:28 make certain, he demonstrates, the strict sacrificial sense of the word when connected with the object our sins . 1 Peter 2:5 would illustrate this. But with other objects the verb should be rendered “carry, bring, or lead up,” “bear or undergo.” “Does it surprise, any reader,” the same expositor inquires, “that so plain a point should be proved so elaborately? Look at the margin of the A.V. and especially the Revisers. And who does not know the bitter zeal of too many in our own day to found, on the gross ignorance of that mistranslation, the dangerous misconception of Christ’s work involved in Christ’s bearing ‘our sins in His body to the tree?’ To translate competently one

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must know a great deal more than a grammar and a dictionary; one needs to consider the varied usages of the language as modified by its application, and especially the scope and requirement of the context. Who but a tyro could write, ‘It is the same word that in the verse before us is rendered on , that in the following verse is rendered to , “Ye are returned to the Shepherd and Bishop of souls?” This, then, we apprehend, is the apostle’s statement, “He himself bare our sins in his own body, to the tree.”’ 2 The blunder led him and many another to the utterly false doctrine, that Christ ‘as really, though not so obviously, bare our sins when he lay a helpless infant, in the manger in Bethlehem, as when he hung, an agonised man, on the accursed tree.’” 3

Greek grammar will confirm Kelly at this point. Epi with the accusative, Buttman comments, must designate as usual a movement upon or tendency towards something, in a local and a figurative reference alike. But as epi with the dative is used with verbs of motion, so, on the other hand, epi with the accusative often stands in a relation of rest, and that too as well in a local as in a tropical view. The student may consult Buttman’s Grammar for detail and example.

Some observe that the phrase ἀναφέρειν ἐπὶ τὸ ξύλον is similar to the common anapherein epi to thusiastērion . Note Leviticus 14:20 , 2 Chronicles 35:16 and other instances. Indeed, all of the salvation truth in verse 24 , phrase by phrase, may well be contrasted with Jewish faith. This would illustrate the great difference between Christianity and Judaism. A table like the one to follow could be constructed:

“who his own self” (voluntary sacrifice) involuntary sacrifice ( Heb 10:4 )
“bare” (one sacrifice) many sacrifices ( Heb 9:25 )
“our sins” (Jew and Gentile) Jewish sins ( Heb 8:8 )
“in his own body” (cf. 1 Tim 2:5–6 ) animal sacrifices ( Heb 9:12 )
“on the tree” on the altar ( Heb 13:10ff )
“that we, being dead to sins” alive to sin ( Heb 10:1ff )
“should live unto righteousness” spiritual failure ( Heb 7:18–19 )
“by whose stripes ye were healed” future salvation ( Heb 8:8ff )

Such a contrast agrees with a statement made in 1:10 , where it was declared concerning Christianity, “of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you....”

An interesting synonym occurs here in place of the usual word for cross . But Peter used ξύλον at other times, too; see Acts 5:30 and 10:39 , also Galatians 3:13 , where Paul quotes from Deuteronomy. Originally xulon signified just wood ( 1 Cor 3:12 ); then something made of wood , as a gibbet or cross; and even tree ( Luke 23:31 ).

The basis for propitiation expounded-a sin offering sufficient to the need-Peter can go on to reveal the practical aim lying behind this sacrifice. An exalted purpose was to be expected, when God spared not His beloved Son, “but delivered him up for us all” ( Rom 8:32 ). Although the blessing of forgiveness, made possible by propitiation, may come only upon the one who exercises faith-so God has decreed, great responsibility, nevertheless, devolves at once upon all believers. We have been saved from dire judgment, not that we might henceforth indulge in antinomian ways or forego toil, but rather “that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness” (v. 24 ).

Three words express the intent of the propitiatory sacrifice: τῃ̂ δικαιοσύνῃζήσωμεν . Abbott-Smith declares that the author has followed classical Greek in using zaō to mean

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the same as bioō , to live , pass one’s life ; likewise, in using the dative case for the object. Paul and Luke do the same, to be sure ( Rom 14:7 ; Luke 20:38 ; 2 Cor 5:15 ; Gal 5:25 ). In one more phrase of three words, then, the apostle proceeds to describe the condition under which believers lived formerly: ται̂ς ἁμαρτίαις ἀπογενόμενοι . Before salvation they had lived unto sin as the master and the object of loyalty in their lives (cf. Thayer); hereafter they must live unto righteousness the rather. All connection with sin, that which Peter mentioned earlier in this verse as borne by a vicarious Sufferer, was severed at the Cross, when Jesus Christ died, the Substitute for sinners. By so much the believer can be said to be “dead” to his wrongdoing, as one who has died with the Son, in the reckoning of God ( Rom 6:6 ; Col 2:14 , 20 ; 3:3 ).

Death to sin is contrasted with the life of righteousness. Apogenomenoi is an old Greek compound, occurring, however, only at this point in the New Testament. It will connote to get ( ginomai ) away from ( apo ), to die to anything . New, pure life becomes possible after the old, impure life has been crucified with Christ. Yet the apostle does not, thereby, teach eradication of the sin nature, any more than Paul in Romans 6 has introduced such a doctrine. If otherwise, why would there be the need for exhortation to fight sin, or in the language of Scripture, to “reckon yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord” ( Rom 6:11 )? Still, zēsōmen , because in the aorist, must intimate resolve and decision, not the daily struggle between the flesh and the Spirit ( Gal 5:17 ). Once the holy purpose has been formed, the believer can enter upon a new manner of life far different from what he knew prior to salvation.

Moving onward logically, after explanation for both the basis and the aim of propitiatory sacrifice, the apostle introduces a third element in the doctrine: its beneficial effect upon the Christian. “By whose stripes ye were healed” (v. 24 ). Again a fulfillment of the fifty-third chapter in Isaiah can be registered; this time, of the fifth verse. The

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Septuagint, which now prevailed among Jews and Christians alike rather than the Hebrew Scriptures, once more influenced the verbiage of the writer, since prophecy was coming to fruition. It reads tōi mōlōpi autou hēmeis iathēmen , while Peter has οὑ̂ τῳ̂ μώλωπι ἰάθητε . Mōlōps , like apoginomai , is not found elsewhere in the New Testament. But unlike the former hapax legomenon , it must be denominated a rare word in Greek for bruise or bloody wound . Healing accomplished through wounding may sound paradoxical. The gospel of saving grace, nevertheless, has just this kind of news to relate, for the weals mentioned here belong to the story of Calvary ( Mark 15:15 ).

Manifestly, physical healing cannot be considered the meaning of Peter’s last words in verse 24 . Iaomai , however, will describe accurately the physical type of healing ( Matt 8:8 , 13 ). On the contrary, spiritual restoration looms before the reader at this juncture-the blessed result of propitiation. Abbott-Smith has tabulated five New Testament references to such a cure exclusive of verse 24 : Matthew 13:15 , John 12:40 , and Acts 28:27 , all based on Isaiah 6:10 and its prophecy; Hebrews 12:13 and James 5:16 . The gift of saving faith, bestowed only by God, constitutes the healing which Isaiah prophesied, long centuries ago. Similarly, here, the apostle must have in mind the divine cure for unbelief, whereby a sinner may be transformed into the child of God. Thus the ruin into which a son of Adam finds himself before conversion can be righted, and only thus. Thereby the one-time pawn of Satan ( Eph 2:2 ) will be equipped for divine service, “strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power,” “filled with all the fulness of God,” able to “do all things through Christ which strengtheneth” him. Surely God has done more than restore the Adamic race; He has exalted the believing portion of it to the level where they have become “partakers of the divine nature,” predestinated “to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the first born among many brethren,” and already “partakers of the Holy Ghost.” Iathēte , since expressed in the aorist tense, will connote a work accomplished for the

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believer at the time of conversion, once and for all, so that its resources can be drawn upon at will henceforth. And mōlōpi , since it was written in the singular number, should be reckoned a collective noun, like the Hebrew original which it represents in Isaiah.

Verse 25

Proof positive that the readers were known to the writer as Christians, verse 25 can adduce: “For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.” The proof consists in the fact that their lives had been healed. Accordingly, verses 24 and 25 are linked together by the illative conjunction γὰρ , inasmuch as evidence to support the testimony to the readers which was given by the former verse will be presented by the latter. Still more significiant than this, is the additional fact that verse 25 illustrates the method whereby Christians can follow the example of Christ.

In the first place, the unsaved condition which the readers had known from sad experience comes to the fore. It is depicted as a lost estate comparable to that of sheep wandering from the fold, ever straying and never returning home. Isaiah 53:6 used the very same comparison after witnessing to the divine cure in verse 5 , just as Peter’s verse 25 follows hard upon verse 24 . The Septuagint phrases it ; pantes hōs probata eplanēthēmen , while the Galilean makes it ἠ̂τε ὡς πρόβατα πλανώμενοι . By employing the periphrastic form of the verb, the apostle could take the same impressive word that Isaiah chose and make it still more emphatic with regard to the unsaved in their ceaseless wandering, homeless and unable to find their way back to the fold without aid. The participle, of course, is frequently joined with a finite verb to constitute the compound tense-form known familiarly as a periphrastic.

G. E. Post observes that no animal in Scripture can compare with the sheep for symbolical interest and importance. It has been mentioned from Genesis to Revelation hundreds of times. For another thing, the care of sheep is a subject of frequent comment in the Bible. From the discussion in

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Hastings’ Dictionary of the Bible a tabulation of all that goes into sheep tending might be constructed like this: (1) They must be protected from all the vicissitudes of weather in the immense treeless plains where they are most raised ( Gen 31:40 ), (2) they are often exposed to the attack of marauding beasts and robbers ( John 10:1 , 12 ), (3) they must be led to pasture and water, daily ( Gen 29:2ff ), (4) they need to obey the shepherd’s voice ( Ps 23:1ff ), (5) their smaller lambs must oftentimes be carried ( Isa 40:11 ), (6) they need dogs to guard the flock and keep its members from straying, (7) they yield milk and wool to their owners ( Deut 32:14 , Isa 53:7 ).

Winter and summer, rain and drought, cold and frost, sheep cannot safeguard themselves from harm. Besides, wild animals lurked in many pastures, especially those on the mountainside, to confront which even a man would risk his life. And as for finding pasture where the land was frequently rocky and barren, or discovering water after the rain had ceased for a particular season and the streams commenced running dry, the sheep was well-nigh impotent. Sheep that failed to heed the shepherd ran the greatest danger, especially if in the wilds where it would be easy to become lost. Then, how could the weak match the pace of the strong sheep as they went in search of pasture or water, unless assisted by the shepherd? Possessed of no great ability to fight or think, the flock needed not only a man to tend them but also dogs which could stand guard day and night, all around the fold.

Like the helpless sheep, therefore, an unsaved individual wanders farther and farther from his Owner, the God who created him. He will turn to his own way invariably, Isaiah explains, which is a self-chosen path far different from the one intended for him by his Creator. So the Maker of man must come to seek and to save that which was lost. His heart is constantly moved with compassion upon the world, because men faint and are scattered abroad, spiritually speaking, as sheep having no shepherd. Israel, the nation from which the Mediator sprang on the human side, has been

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dispersed literally through the whole world. As for the Gentile nations, out of the many such, not one individual turns about and of his own accord seeks after God ( Rom 3:11 ). Souls like Paul, the former Saul of Tarsus, might have attained to a blameless record in Jewry, as touching the righteousness which is possible with the law of Moses, when viewed from the finite, human angle. But he and all like him still fall short of the glory of God and, in addition, go about to establish their own righteousness, rather than submit to the perfect righteousness of God. Others burn in their lust, changing the glory of God into an image of the corruptible creation, professing themselves to be wise, and having pleasure in the degradation all about them. Some others handle the Word of God deceitfully, apostatizing from the faith once for all delivered to the saints. This is the world built by Adam’s race, continuing essentially the same in every century. “For the mystery of lawlessness doth already work; only there is one that restraineth now, until he be taken out of the way” ( 2 Thess 2:7 , R.V.). One of the best summaries of the latest development in this practical atheism-proof that men do stray far from God-reads thus: “The modern history of the decline of liberty and democracy is the sad story of whole peoples’ turning their backs upon the God of the Bible, the God of Supernatural power and revelation, and reverting to the brute practice of ‘following nature.’ But this is no yielding to instinct, no succumbing to irrational demands of depraved nature for a ‘return to the natural order.’ This is no frenzied movement carried out in a delirium of unbridled emotionalism. This is a ‘scientific and intellectual movement’ which has been gaining momentum for decades. It is no accident that its wildest excess has been achieved in the nation most noted for her ‘scientific and intellectual achievements,’ and most dominated in her educational life by the so-called ‘spirit of scientific naturalism.’” 4

The second half of 1 Peter 2:24 will convey the testimony

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to faith which demonstrates that the readers had turned Christian. Both the strong unbelief of earlier days and the saving faith of a later time are mentioned, the two forming a great contrast: “ye were...but are now.” As a verb in the aorist tense, obviously parallel to iathēte above, ἐπεστράφητε points back to the time of conversion (Johnstone). Yet there may be a larger reference than to the beginning of their salvation, judging from the addition of νυ̂ν here. This adverb has been used in 1:12 to indicate a longer time than the immediate present. Occasionally, indeed, a classical Greek construction with nun and an aorist connoted some drawn-out period, Johnstone shows. Hence, just as 1:12 covered in its scope the whole Christian order, contrasted with the prior age of prophecy, so 2:25 may embrace in its outlook not merely conversion but the entire Christian life of its readers thus far. The faith attitude which won them salvation seems to characterize their lives day by day. No doubt here is the secret of the believer’s ability to follow a sinless example like Christ’s. He does it not by virtue of personal strength or resolve, but in the might of Another-his God’s omnipotence. And divine strength is made perfect in weakness ( 2 Cor 12:9 ). Not even the weakest Christian, then, would disqualify for imitation of Messiah.

Like iathēte , epistrephō was incorporated into Isaiah 6:10 by the Septuagint (see Acts 28:27 ). There, as here, its metaphorical sense appears, to turn spiritually as to the Object of one’s faith. Scholars will differ in interpretation of the verb form used by Peter, epistraphēte , since it could be taken as possessed either of middle or passive significance. The translation might be either “have turned yourselves” or “have been turned.” While the Authorized and Revised Versions choose the latter, “are returned,” that is to say, “are turned back,” good arguments have been offered for the other view. Masterman would prefer the middle sense because “conversion is generally regarded in the New Testament as a deliberate human act.” Similarly, Johnstone has expressed his preference for the middle significance, although perfect parallelism with the foregoing statement in verse 24 now being explained

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and its verb, iathēte , might seem to call for the passive force in verse 25 . According to this expositor, such minute correspondence is not necessary always; and furthermore, both among classical writers and New Testament writers the second aorist passive form of epistrephō has a middle force (cf. Mark 8:33 ; John 21:20 ). But regardless of the significance understood for epetraphēte , the form will connote faith, so as to agree with the inspired bearing attached to the verb in the New Testament, as, for example, in Acts 11:21 : ”...a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord”- polus arithmos ho pisteusas epestrepsen epi ton Kurion . Whereas the middle voice would emphasize the human volition in faith, the passive would lay stress on the divine energizing of confidence ( Phil 1:29 ; 2:13 ). One thing more: the sense, turn back , return , which a reader naturally and rightly gives to epistrephō here, where the thought is of unsaved men turning to the Savior from whom they had long strayed, does not belong to the word etymologically or constantly; yet it frequently has it (e.g., 2 Pet 2:22 ; Matt 12:44 ). 5 Compare Acts 17:23ff .

The Galilean fisherman had epistrephō deeply ingrained in his being, no doubt, since it was connected with the very time he denied the Lord thrice. According to Luke 22:31–32 , “The Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted [ epistrephō ], strengthen thy breathren.” In Acts 3:19 , the restored apostle not only fulfilled this injunction, but also employed the very word involved, epistrephō , so far as his Jewish brethren who were unsaved might be concerned. Notice the word brethren in Acts 3:17 .

Peter describes the Object of faith as “the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.” Just as the symbolism for sheep made an extensive study, the Shepherd work of Christ will form a prominent theme in the Bible. The Scofield Reference Bible has summarized this well: “The shepherd work of our Lord

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has three aspects: (1) As the ‘Good’ Shepherd He gives His life for the sheep (John 10.11), and is, therefore, ‘the door’ by which ‘if any man enter in be shall be saved’ (John 10.9). This answers to Psa. 22 . (2) He is the ‘Great’ Shepherd, ‘brought again from the dead’ (Heb. 13.20), to care for and make perfect the sheep. This answers to Psa. 23 . (3) He is the ‘Chief’ Shepherd who is coming in glory to give crowns of reward to the faithful shepherds (1 Pet. 5.4). This answers to Psa. 24 .” 6 Apparently the second aspect is being presented by 1 Peter 2:25 , and this in conjunction with the primary truth of His sacrifice as the Good Shepherd (v. 24 ), comparable to the proximity of Psalms 22 and 23 . If 1:19 could be counted an allusion to the Shepherd work of Messiah, all three aspects would be included in 1 Peter.

Bigg comments that ἐπίσκοπος , though nearly equivalent to ποιμήν , is a more general term for overseer. No doubt, the two titles were needed in order to link the Shepherding of Christ directly with His Church, episcopos being a technical term for the leadership in congregations. Before this, the writer has shown how he can adapt Old Testament language to New Testament doctrine (e.g., verses 9 and 10 of this chapter). Here alone has Jesus Christ been styled Episcopos . In Luke 19:44 , however, the abstract noun from this same root was applied to Christ and His shepherding of Israel; compare 1 Peter 2:12 . According to the International Critical Commentary , too, ψυχω̂ν signifies the whole of man’s spiritual nature, the way Peter has employed the word in his writings. The three instances where this term was met, prior to 2:25 , are 1:9 , 22 and 2:11 . An important point may be intimated here through the emphasis just on spiritual nurture. It is this-“The covenants and destinies of Israel are earthly: the covenants and destinies of the church are all heavenly.” 7 Certainly, Jesus Christ does not guarantee His Church the physical blessings which David bears witness to in Psalm 23 . He does, nevertheless, pledge to shepherd the

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Church in spiritual fashion, so as to make her a habitation of God and conform her for presentation to Himself “a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” ( Eph 2:19ff , 5:27 ).

Simple, eloquent, pregnant verses like 2:24–25 should demonstrate to every one the reason why Peter gained the preeminence among the Twelve. The Savior, who is worthy of all glory, he knows well enough to exalt intelligently and fervently. He can teach as well as exhort, and teach while he exhorts. His ministry of feeding sheep ( John 21:15–17 ) was fulfilled ably by means of testimony like this.


1 1. New Testament Commentary (Philadelphia: the United Lutheran Publication Board, 1936), in loc .

2 2. An Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel according to St. Matthew (London: Robert Scott, 1928), in loc .

3 3. Peter and Jude in The International Critical Commentary (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1901), in loc .

[1]Dallas Theological Seminary. 1942;2002. Bibliotheca Sacra Volume 99 . Dallas Theological Seminary

1 1. Lewis Sperry Chafer, Salvation (Chicago: The Bible Institute Colportage Ass’n., 1930), p. 40.

2 2. John Brown, D.D., on 1 Peter (i. 453, Sec. Ed. 1849).

3 3. William Kelly, The Epistle of Peter (London: F. E. Race (C. A. Hammond), 1923), pp. 168-169.

4 4. Dan Gilbert, The Real Fifth Column and How It is Undermining America (San Diego: The Danielle Publishers, 1942), p. 18.

5 5. Robert Johnstone, The First Epistle of Peter: Revised Text, with Introduction and Commentary (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1888), in loc .

6 6. Page 1129.

7 7. Lewis Sperry Chafer, The Kingdom in History and Prophecy (Chicago: The Bible Institute Colportage Ass’n., 1936), p. 87.

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