Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
1. elders--alike in office and age
I . . . also an elder--To put one's self on a level
with those whom we exhort, gives weight to one's exhortations (compare
2Jo 1, 2).
Peter, in true humility for the Gospel's sake, does not put forward his
apostleship here, wherein he presided over the elders. In
the apostleship the apostles have no successors, for "the signs of an
apostle" have not been transmitted. The presidents over the presbyters
and deacons, by whatever name designated, angel, bishop, or
moderator, &c., though of the same ORDER as the
presbyters, yet have virtually succeeded to a superintendency of
the Church analogous to that exercised by the apostles (this
superintendency and priority existed from the earliest times after the
apostles [TERTULLIAN]); just as the Jewish
synagogue (the model which the Church followed) was governed by a
council of presbyters, presided over by one of themselves, "the chief
ruler of the synagogue." (Compare VITRINGA
[Synagogue and Temple, Part II, chs. 3 and 7]).
witness--an eye-witness of Christ's sufferings, and so
qualified to exhort you to believing patience in suffering for
well-doing after His example
(1Pe 4:19; 2:20).
This explains the "therefore" inserted in the oldest manuscripts, "I
therefore exhort," resuming exhortation from
His higher dignity as an apostle is herein delicately implied,
as eye-witnessing was a necessary qualification for apostleship:
compare Peter's own speeches,
Ac 1:21, 22; 2:32; 10:39.
also--implying the righteous recompense corresponding to the
partaker of the glory--according to Christ's promise; an earnest
of which was given in the transfiguration.
2. Feed--Greek, "Tend as a shepherd," by discipline and
doctrine. Lead, feed, heed: by prayer, exhortation, government, and
example. The dignity is marked by the term "elder"; the
duties of the office, to tend or oversee, by
"bishop." Peter has in mind Christ's injunction to him, "Feed
(tend) My sheep . . . Feed (pasture) My lambs"
He invites the elders to share with him the same duty (compare
The flock is Christ's.
which is among you--While having a concern for all the
Church, your special duty is to feed that portion of it "which is among
oversight--Greek, "bishopric," or duty of bishops, that
not by constraint--Necessity is laid upon them, but willingness
prevents it being felt, both in undertaking and in fulfilling the duty
[BENGEL]. "He is a true presbyter and minister of
the counsel of God who doeth and teacheth the things of the Lord, being
not accounted righteous merely because he is a presbyter, but because
righteous, chosen into the presbytery" [CLEMENT OF
willingly--One oldest manuscript, Vulgate, Syriac, and
Coptic, add, "as God would have it to be done"
not for filthy lucre--
of a ready mind--promptly and heartily, without selfish motive
of gain-seeking, as the Israelites gave their services
willing-heartedly to the sanctuary.
3. being lords--Greek, "lording it": implying pride and
oppression. "Not that we have dominion over your faith."
God's heritage--Greek, "the inheritances," that
is, the portions of the Church committed severally to your
pastoral charge [BENGEL]. It is explained by "the
flock" in the next clause. However, in
"flock of God which is among you," answering to "(God's)
heritages" (plural to express the sheep who are God's portion
committed to you, favors English Version. The flock, as one
whole, is God's heritage, or flock in the singular. Regarded
in relation to its component sheep, divided among several
pastors, it is in the plural "heritages." Compare
Ac 1:17, 25,
"part" (the same Greek). BERNARD OF
CLAIRVAUX, wrote to Pope Eugene, "Peter could not
give thee what he had not: what he had he gave: the care over
the Church, not dominion."
ensamples--the most effective recommendation of precept
"patterns." So Jesus. "A monstrosity it is to see the highest rank
joined with the meanest mind, the first seat with the lowest life, a
grandiloquent tongue with a lazy life, much talking with no fruit"
4. And--"And so": as the result of "being ensamples"
chief Shepherd--the title peculiarly Christ's own, not Peter's
or the pope's.
when . . . shall appear--Greek, "be manifested"
Faith serves the Lord while still unseen.
crown--Greek, "stephanos," a garland of
victory, the prize in the Grecian games, woven of ivy, parsley,
myrtle, olive, or oak. Our crown is distinguished from
theirs in that it is "incorruptible" and "fadeth not away," as
the leaves of theirs soon did. "The crown of life." Not a
kingly "crown" (a different Greek word, diadema):
the prerogative of the Lord Jesus
glory--Greek, "the glory," namely, to be
that fadeth not away--Greek, "amaranthine" (compare
5. ye younger--The deacons were originally the younger
men, the presbyters older; but subsequently as presbyter
expressed the office of Church ruler or teacher, so Greek
"neoteros" means not (as literally) young men in age, but
subordinate ministers and servants of the Church. So Christ uses
the term "younger." For He explains it by "he that doth serve,"
literally, "he that ministereth as a deacon"; just as He explains "the
greatness" by "he that is chief," literally, "he that ruleth,"
the very word applied to the bishops or presbyters. So
"the young men" are undoubtedly the deacons of the Church of Jerusalem,
of whom, as being all Hebrews, the Hellenistic Christians
subsequently complained as neglecting their Grecian widows,
whence arose the appointment of the seven others, Hellenistic
deacons. So here, Peter, having exhorted the presbyters, or
elders, not to lord it over those committed to them, adds, Likewise ye
neoters or younger, that is, subordinate ministers and deacons,
submit cheerfully to the command of the elders [MOSHEIM]. There is no Scripture sanction for "younger"
meaning laymen in general (as ALFORD
explains): its use in this sense is probably of later date. The
"all of you" that follows, refers to the congregation
generally; and it is likely that, like Paul, Peter should notice,
previous to the general congregation, the subordinate ministers
as well as the presbyters, writing as he did to the same region
(Ephesus), and to confirm the teaching of the apostle of the Gentiles.
Yea--to sum up all my exhortations in one.
be subject--omitted in the oldest manuscripts and versions, but
TISCHENDORF quotes the Vatican manuscript
for it. Then translate, "Gird
(1Pe 1:13; 4:1)
fast on humility (lowliness of mind) to one another." The verb is
literally, "tie on with a fast knot"
[WAHL]. Or, "gird on humility as the
slave dress (encomboma)": as the Lord girded Himself with a
towel to perform a servile office of humility and love, washing His
disciples' feet, a scene in which Peter had played an important part,
so that he would naturally have it before his mind. Compare similarly
with Joh 21:15-17.
Clothing was the original badge of man's sin and shame. Pride caused
the need of man's clothing, and pride still reigns in dress; the
Christian therefore clothes himself in humility
(1Pe 3:3, 4).
God provides him with the robe of Christ's righteousness, in order to
receive which man must be stripped of pride.
God resisteth the proud--Quoted, as
from Pr 3:34.
Peter had James before his mind, and gives his Epistle inspired
with Jas 4:7,
literally, "arrayeth Himself against." Other sins flee from God: pride
alone opposeth itself to God; therefore, God also in turn opposes
Himself to the proud [GERHARD in
ALFORD]. Humility is the vessel of all graces
6. under the mighty hand--afflicting you
"accept" His chastisements, and turn to Him that smiteth you. He
depresses the proud and exalts the humble.
in due time--Wait humbly and patiently for His own fit time. One
oldest manuscript and Vulgate read, "In the season of
visitation," namely, His visitation in mercy.
7. Casting--once for all: so the Greek aorist.
care--"anxiety? The advantage flowing from humbling ourselves
under God's hand
is confident reliance on His goodness. Exemption from care goes along
with humble submission to God.
careth for you--literally "respecting you." Care is a
burden which faith casts off the man on his God. Compare
Ps 22:10; 37:5; 55:22,
to which Peter alludes;
Lu 12:22, 37;
careth--not so strong a Greek word as the previous
8. Peter has in mind Christ's warning to himself to watch
against Satan, from forgetting which he fell.
Be sober . . . vigilant--"Care," that is,
anxiety, will intoxicate the soul; therefore be sober, that is,
self-restrained. Yet, lest this freedom from care should lead
any to false security, he adds, "Be vigilant" against "your adversary."
Let this be your "care." God provides, therefore do not be anxious. The
devil seeks, therefore watch [BENGEL].
because--omitted in the oldest manuscripts The broken and
disjointed sentences are more fervid and forcible.
LUCIFER OF CAGLIARI reads as
adversary--literally, "opponent in a court of justice"
"Satan" means opponent. "Devil," accuser or
"A murderer from the beginning"
He counteracts the Gospel and its agents. "The tempter."
roaring lion--implying his violent and insatiable thirst for
prey as a hungry lion. Through man's sin he got God's justice on his
side against us; but Christ, our Advocate, by fulfilling all the
demands of justice for us, has made our redemption altogether
consistent with justice.
(Job 1:7; 2:2).
So the children of the wicked one cannot rest. Evil spirits are
said to be already in chains of darkness and in hell. This probably
means that this is their doom finally: a doom already begun in
part; though for a time they are permitted to roam in the world (of
which Satan is prince), especially in the dark air that surrounds the
earth. Hence perhaps arises the miasma of the air at times, as physical
and moral evil are closely connected.
devour--entangle in worldly "care"
and other snares, so as finally to destroy. Compare
Re 12:15, 16.
steadfast--Compare established in the truth,"
Satan's power exists only in respect to the unbelieving; the faithful
he cannot hurt
Faith gives strength to prayer, the great instrument against the foe
knowing, &c.--"encouragement not to faint in afflictions": your
brethren suffer the same; nothing beyond the common lot of Christians
It is a sign of God's favor rather than displeasure, that Satan is
allowed to harass you, as he did Job. Your fellow Christians have the
same battle of faith and prayer against Satan.
are--are being accomplished according to the appointment
in the world--lying in the wicked one, and therefore necessarily
the scene of "tribulation"
10. Comforting assurance that God will finally "perfect" His
work of "grace" in them, after they have undergone the necessary
But--Only do you watch and resist the foe: God will perform the
of all grace--(Compare
The God to whom as its source all grace is to be referred; who in grace
completes what in grace He began. He from the first "called (so the
oldest manuscripts read for "us") unto (with a view to) glory." He will
not let His purpose fall short of completion. If He does so in
punishing, much more in grace. The three are fitly conjoined: the
call, the glory to which we are called, and the way
(suffering); the fourth is the ground of the calling, namely,
the grace of God in Christ.
by--Greek, "in." Christ is He in virtue of whom,
and in union with whom, believers are called to glory. The
opposite is "in the world"
after that ye have suffered--Join to "called you":
suffering, as a necessary preliminary to glory, was
contemplated in God's calling.
a while--short and inconsiderable, as compared with the
perfect, &c.--The two oldest manuscripts, and Vulgate and
Coptic versions, read, "shall perfect (so that there
shall be nothing defective in you), stablish, strengthen," and
omit "settle," literally, "ground," or "fix on a foundation." ALFORD reads it in spite of the oldest manuscripts The
authority of the latter I prefer; moreover the climax seems to require
rather a verb of completing the work of grace, than, as the
Greek means, founding it. The Greek has, "shall
HIMSELF perfect you": though you are called on to
watch and resist the foe, God Himself must really
do all in and through you. The same God who begins must Himself
complete the work. The Greek for "stablish" (so as to be
"steadfast in the faith,"
is the same as "strengthen,"
Peter has in mind Christ's charge, "When thou art converted,
strengthen thy brethren." His exhortation accords with his name
Peter, "Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will
build My Church." "Stablish," so as not to waver. "Strengthen" with
might in the inner man by His Spirit, against the foe.
11. To him--emphatic. To Him and Him alone: not to ourselves.
Compare "Himself," see on
glory and--omitted in the oldest manuscripts and versions.
dominion--Greek, "the might" shown in so
12. Silvanus--Silas, the companion of Paul and Timothy: a
suitable messenger by whom to confirm, as Peter here does,
Paul's doctrine of "the true grace of God" in the same churches
We never meet with Silvanus as Paul's companion after Paul's last
journey to Jerusalem. His connection with Peter was plainly subsequent
to that journey.
as I suppose--Join "faithful unto you
[STEIGER], as I suppose." Silvanus may have stood
in a close relation to the churches in Asia, perhaps having taken the
oversight of them after Paul's departure, and had afterwards gone to
Peter, by whom he is now sent back to them with this Epistle. He did
not know, by positive observation, Silvanus' faithfulness to
them; he therefore says, "faithful to you, as I suppose,"
from the accounts I hear; not expressing doubt.
ALFORD joins "I have written unto you,"
which the Greek order favors. The seeming uncertainty, thus, is
not as to Silvanus' faithfulness, which strongly marked by the
Greek article, but as to whether he or some other would prove to
be the bearer of the letter, addressed as it was to five provinces,
all of which Silvanus might not reach: "By Silvanus, that
faithful brother, as expect, I have Written to you"
briefly--Greek, "in few (words)," as compared with the
importance of the subject
exhorting--not so much formally teaching doctrines, which
could not be done in so "few words."
testifying--bearing my testimony in confirmation (so the
Greek compound verb implies) of that truth which ye have already
heard from Paul and Silas
that this--of which I have just written, and of which Paul
before testified to you (whose testimony, now that he was no longer in
those regions, was called in question probably by some; compare
2Pe 3:15, 16).
"the present truth," namely, the grace formerly promised by the
prophets, and now manifested to you. "Grace" is the keynote of
Paul's doctrine which Peter now confirms
(Eph 2:5, 8).
Their sufferings for the Gospel made them to need some attestation and
confirmation of the truth, that they should not fall back from it.
wherein ye stand--The oldest manuscripts read imperatively,
"Stand ye." Literally, "into which (having been already
1Pe 1:8, 21; 2:7, 8, 9)
stand (therein)." Peter seems to have in mind Paul's words
"The grace wherein we stand must be true, and our standing in it true
also" [BENGEL]. Compare in "He began his Epistle
he finishes it with grace, he has besprinkled the middle with grace,
that in every part he might teach that the Church is not saved but by
13. The . . . at Babylon--ALFORD,
BENGEL, and others translate, "She that is elected
together with you in Babylon," namely, Peter's wife, whom he
led about with him in his missionary journeys. Compare
"heirs together of the grace of life." But why she should be
called "elected together with you in Babylon," as if there had
been no Christian woman in Babylon besides, is inexplicable on this
view. In English Version the sense is clear: "That portion of
the whole dispersion
Greek), or Church of Christianized Jews, with Gentile converts,
which resides in Babylon." As Peter and John were closely associated,
Peter addresses the Church in John's peculiar province, Asia, and
closes with "your co-elect sister Church at Babylon
saluteth you"; and John similarly addresses the "elect lady," that is,
the Church in Babylon, and closes with "the children of thine
elect sister (the Asiatic Church) greet thee"; (compare
to Second John). ERASMUS explains, "Mark who
is in the place of a son to me": compare
implying Peter's connection with Mark; whence the mention of him in
connection with the Church at Babylon, in which he labored under
Peter before he went to Alexandria is not unnatural. PAPIAS reports from the presbyter John [EUSEBIUS, Ecclesiastical History, 3.39], that Mark
was interpreter of Peter, recording in his Gospel the facts related to
him by Peter. Silvanus or Silas had been substituted for John Mark, as
Paul's companion, because of Mark's temporary unfaithfulness. But now
Mark restored is associated with Silvanus, Paul's companion, in Peter's
esteem, as Mark was already reinstated in Paul's esteem. That Mark had
a spiritual connection with the Asiatic' churches which Peter
addresses, and so naturally salutes them, appears from
Babylon--The Chaldean Babylon on the Euphrates. See
ON THE PLACE OF WRITING this Epistle, in proof
that Rome is not meant as Papists assert; compare LIGHTFOOT sermon. How unlikely that in a
friendly salutation the enigmatical title of Rome given in
should be used! Babylon was the center from which the Asiatic
dispersion whom Peter addresses was derived.
PHILO [The Embassy to Gaius, 36] and
JOSEPHUS [Antiquities, 15.2.2; 23.12]
inform us that Babylon contained a great many Jews in the apostolic age
(whereas those at Rome were comparatively few, about eight thousand
[JOSEPHUS, Antiquities, 17.11]); so it
would naturally be visited by the apostle of the circumcision. It was
the headquarters of those whom he had so successfully addressed on
Jewish "Parthians . . . dwellers in Mesopotamia" (the
Parthians were then masters of Mesopotamian Babylon); these he
ministered to in person. His other hearers, the Jewish "dwellers
in Cappadocia, Pontus, Asia, Phrygia, Pamphylia," he now ministers to
by letter. The earliest distinct authority for Peter's martyrdom at
Rome is DIONYSIUS, bishop of Corinth, in the
latter half of the second century. The desirableness of representing
Peter and Paul, the two leading apostles, as together founding the
Church of the metropolis, seems to have originated the tradition.
CLEMENT OF ROME [First
Epistle to the Corinthians, 4.5], often quoted for, is really
against it. He mentions Paul and Peter together, but makes it as a
distinguishing circumstance of Paul, that he preached both in
the East and West, implying that Peter never was in the West. In
he says, "I must shortly put off this tabernacle," implying his
martyrdom was near, yet he makes no allusion to Rome, or any intention
of his visiting it.
14. kiss of charity--
"an holy kiss": the token of love to God and the brethren.
Love and holiness are inseparable. Compare the instance,
Peace--Peter's closing salutation; as Paul's is, "Grace be with
you," though he accompanies it with "peace be to the brethren." "Peace"
(flowing from salvation) was Christ's own salutation after the
resurrection, and from Him Peter derives it.
be with you all that are in Christ Jesus--The oldest manuscripts
omit "Jesus." In
addressed to the same region, the same limitation of the salutation
occurs, whence, perhaps, Peter here adopts it. Contrast, "Be with